Coming from Paarl, the Fairview Shiraz has a long association with the land, and the mountain which stretches beyond the estate. The Shiraz grape was first planted in the land three generations ago, but the Fairview wine estate has been going for many more years, coming into existence more than 300 years ago. As Fairview is close to the Cape of Good Hope, it has a good share of both Atlantic winds and Indian Ocean climate, which allow the grapes on it to flourish in warm summers and breezy winters. Shiraz has long been a favourite vine for South African growers, and the Paarl, the Fairview Shiraz is taking steps to ensure that the wine will also become a favourite with the rest of the wine-drinking world. The John Platter guide also gives it high marks every year.
The estate in Fairview is designed to allow the vines to absorb a lot of natural flavours from the soil. The vineyards are partially located on top of granite soils, and use drip irrigation to encourage the vines to flourish. The earthy nature of the decomposed granite is easily picked up in the berries, and adds a distinct flavour to the wine itself. Fairview Shiraz, while partly made up of grapes grown on the estate, is also blended with the berries from other locations. Other grapes from the Agter-Paarl wine region, from Stellenbosch, and from Swartland, give the wine a greater depth of flavour than might be found simply by using the vines from the Fairview estate.
The grapes themselves are harvested during February and March, and have all of the stalks removed. Once they arrive in the wine-making area of the Fairview estate, the uncrushed grapes are then added to Rhone yeasts, and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Once this part of the fermentation is completed, the wine is then placed in French or American oak barrels, and the wine is aged to perfection in 14 months. The wines are then taken out of the barrels, blended with other spices and flavours, and then bottled. The Fairview Shiraz should be drinkable for a few more years, but it can be left to mature completely for even longer than this, with some of the estate’s Shiraz from the 1970s still being in good condition.
The various grapes used in the Shiraz help to give the wine itself a deep red taste, and a medium to full body. The spices added to some of the Fairview Shiraz vintages, such as the 2007, include white pepper and vanilla. There are also separate flavours of fruits such as raspberry and plum. The 2005 vintage has a similar range of flavours, while the 2009 contains hints of blueberry, black cherries and cloves. This mixture of tastes, and the occasional difference between the vintages, make the Fairview Shiraz a consistently exciting and memorable wine, with a great complexity which should allow even the most choosy of wine experts to enjoy this deeply traditional South African wine. The delicacy and intensity of the flavours are good reasons to enjoy this wine with dinner, or by itself.