Cool-Climate Elim Produces First Platter’s 5-Star Wine For De Grendel

De Grendel has earned its first Platter’s five-star rating with the 2017 Elim Shiraz, reaping the rewards of a near-perfect vintage and the wine-growing potential that cellar master Charles Hopkins saw more than 20 years ago in the cool maritime climate close to Africa’s southern tip of Cape Agulhas.

Hopkins received the five-star certificate at the launch of the 2020 Platter’s by Diners Club South African Wine Guide in Cape Town last week (Friday, 8 November 2019), where the 2017 Elim Shiraz was one of 125 wines, out of 8 000 reviewed in the guide, to be scored 95 points or more and achieve “South African classic” status.

Meanwhile, De Grendel Shiraz 2017, made from Paarl and Stellenbosch grapes, was rated as “Highly Recommended” with 94 points and 4.5 stars in the 40th edition of Platter’s, the most comprehensive guide to South African wines, and another six wines from the estate received 4.5-star ratings (90 points or more).

On the five stars for the Elim Shiraz, Hopkins said: “This is a fantastic accolade for a wine in only its second vintage. It’s no secret that this wine is close to my heart and for it to achieve De Grendel’s first five-star Platter’s rating is an especial honour.

“I have always said that quality is not a goal, it is a journey. Achieving a five-star rating is recognition of what we set out to do on the wine-making journey at De Grendel – to make wines with distinctive style and elegance, that drink beautifully on release and will reward patience with ageing.”

Hopkins grew up in Bredasdorp, close to Elim, and in 1994 was one of a pioneering group of winemakers to recognise the area’s potential and start planting vineyards. He specifically identified the Elim climate for producing Shiraz with the highly sought-after rotundone characteristics of intensely fragrant, delicate black pepper and herbal notes that earmark the world’s best examples of the varietal.

It was another 22 years before he made and released the first De Grendel Elim Shiraz in 2016, which immediately impressed reviewers and judges, earning accolades including a Double Gold medal at the Michelangelo Awards and Top 12 status in the Shiraz SA Challenge, and Hopkins put even more confidence in the 2017 vintage, the product of “exceptional, near-perfect growing and ripening conditions”.

 “2017 will be remembered as one of the best vintages in South Africa in recent years, and the benefits of Elim’s cool, moderate, maritime climate are clear to see in what I believe is a truly outstanding wine, with exceptional maturation potential,” Hopkins said.

Exclusively available in magnums to De Grendel Loyalty Club members, the limited release Elim Shiraz 2017 was 30% whole-bunch fermented and then matured in second- and third-fill French oak barrels for 13 months.

The result is an intensely elegant wine – praised in Platter’s for its “power and presence” – with robust tannins, excellent structure and fruit concentration: delicate black pepper, lavender, violets and rosemary balancing the full-bodied, rich and juicy palate. 

The Elim Shiraz 2017 was named best wine overall, with an outstanding 95 points, in the winemag.co.za Shiraz Report earlier this year.

In addition to the 5-starred Elim Shiraz 2017, De Grendel’s 4.5-star wines in the 2020 Platter’s guide are the De Grendel Shiraz 2017, Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Op die Berg Chardonnay 2018, Op die Berg Pinot Noir 2017, the flagship Bordeaux-style red Rubaiyat 2017, the Shiraz-led blend Sir David Graaff First Baronet 2016, and Winifred 2018, a wooded white blend of chardonnay, viognier and semillon.