The Surprise of the Season

by Johann Olivier

Late one recent Thursday, after a long day of tasting, a game-changer entered our vinous lives. If you told us what was about to be poured, we may not have even bothered. South Africa? We might have asked, when was the last time we went bonkers for a wine from South Africa?

Well, we now have an answer to that question: 7:20 PM (EST) November 7th 2013; the moment we tasted the 2008 Dombeya ‘Boulder Road’ Shiraz.

Yes, a South African Shiraz blew our mind. Here’s why: Imagine catching a hint of pipe tobacco passing through a lavender bush where a barrel of black olives is resting next to an old limestone building… where someone is cooking bacon! Now imagine those same scents, but on the first day of winter when the crunchy leaves, fireplace smoke, and clean air also fills the lungs.

Well, that’s where our wine-brains went once we started digging in. Adjectives and comparisons began flying. Northern Rhône—very serious Northern Rhône, like Cornas or Côte-Rôtie—was the first and most obvious, but there was also something meatier; something richer and easier to drink about the Dombeya—that rare combination of complexity and accessibility.

Comparisons to La Rioja Alta’s ‘Ardanza’ also came up, not because of the flavor profile, but because of the crossover potential. There are few wines that will appeal to most wine drinkers, but the 2008 ‘Boulder Road’ Shiraz is one of them.

Like we said, we tasted on a Thursday, bought all we could, and by Friday we were the first store in NYC (that we know of) to have this gem. We won’t be the last. Word is going to get out and we wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes our ‘go-to’ for the holidays; a time when so many divergent palates meet at the same table.

Imagine, for instance, your wine snob uncle; your California Cab drinking brother in-law; and your wine-geek college professor cousin (who is always blabbing on about elegance and acidity) ALL raising their glasses together in agreement that the Dombeya is some damn fine wine.

You can put us—everyone one of us—at that table too… all winter long.

Happy (South Africa) Hunting!

**From the newsletter of PJWine Inc. of NYC –