Thelema Shiraz 2005
Syrah/Shiraz from South Africa
This robust, Rhône-inspired bottling from the heralded Thelema estate charms with enticing flavors of blackberry, black currant, and pepper and an alluring earthy character. Notes of dark chocolate, toasty oak, and spice carry through on the long finish.
Wine Spectator - "Richly layered, with suave mocha and cocoa notes running through lush blackberry, fig and raspberry ganache notes. Long, alluring finish is finely grained. Drink now through 2010."
Wine & Spirits - "A dark, savory shiraz, this lasts on meaty spice. Its generous fruit is clean and well preserved, feeling fresh. Decant it to bring some oxygen to the tannins, then serve with flank steak, seared rare."
Thelema Mountain Vineyards
In 1983, Gyles Webb and his wife's family purchased a run-down fruit farm at the top of the Helshoogte Pass in Stellenbosch, where they established Thelema Mountain Vineyards. At a time when the South African wine scene was focused on quantity rather than quality, Webb was a trailblazing pioneer on a mission to craft world-class wines. Construction began on the winery in 1987, and Thelema produced its first vintage in 1988. Situated on the slopes of the Simonsberg, Thelema occupies mainly south-facing aspects that afford spectacular views of the Simonsberg, Drankenstein and Jonkershoek mountains. Elevations ranging from 370 to 640 meters above sea-level make the 157-hectare estate one of the coolest and highest wine farms in Stellenbosch. View all Thelema Mountain Vineyards Wines
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A long history of growing grapes and making wine, but less of a history on exporting it, and even lesser on the quality aspect. At the turn of the century (1900, that is), a surplus of wine in South Africa created a hierarchy of cooperatives, the biggest and best known being KWV. This organization seemed to favor quantity over quality and had most control over wines and vineyards until the late 1980's. Now, with a bit more competition, quality is coming around. Yet, South African wine was not even seen in American wine stores until the mid-1990's – the trade embargo on the country for their racial apartheid laws kept South African wine out of the US. When apartheid fell, so did the embargo, and SA bottles began showing up on US shelves.
White wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy. More white than red is planted, much of it the Steen variety – known elsewhere in the world as Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape gaining some raves is Sauvignon Blanc, producing whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds, the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends was once the favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, which used to be a grape only your mother could love, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. The most popular regions of the country include Stellenbosch and Paarl.
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Notable FactsWhite wine has always been the cash crop of South Africa, with much of it distilled to make brandy. More white than red is planted, the majority of it is Steen – known elsewhere in the world as Chenin Blanc. Good producers are making top quality dry wines from this grape. Another grape the critics rave aboutSauvignon Blanc, producing whites that are dry and crisp, yet rounder than many of its Southern Hemisphere counterparts. For reds, the top grapes are Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon (& blends) and Pinotage. Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends were once the favorite and most-produced, but Shiraz is taking over as wineries crank out high quality wines from the variety. Pinotage, a man-made crossing between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, has improved dramatically and is often as delicious as it is distinctive. In describing red wines in South Africa, smoky and meaty are two terms that are common. Regionally, the most popular wine-making areas include Stellenbosch and Paarl.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.