Iona Solace Syrah 2014


Price: R240 (as of May 2017)
Winery: Iona
Varietal: Syrah/ Shiraz
Wine Region: Elgin
Country: South Africa


Quality: 15/20
Value: 2/5
Ponce Factor: Moderate-to-high
Occasion: Dinner after a funeral. Or lunch with your Mother-in-law.

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This wine is more serious than an acoustic set by “The National”.
There is nothing wrong with being serious, but there is nothing particularly right about it either. And no one likes being serious all the time.
If this wine cracked a joke every now and then, I reckon it could push into 4-star territory.
Vanguard aromas of star anise and pepper dominate more subdued blackcurrant fruit and very subtle vanilla elements. Palate is not hugely weighty, nor particularly lengthy.
Platter gave this 5-stars. Which, considering some of the other wines on the list, was a rather generous gesture, I feel.

Fruit or Fantastic: The False Dichotomy

There is a notion out there, that “fruity” wines are for Woohoo girls and frat dinners, while leaner, more austere wines are for ivy league graduation dinners, and dinner with the Queen.
The Iona Solace Syrah (above) falls into this category – serious, with subdued fruit, pronounced spice, and moderate weight – and by most accounts is an outstanding wine (Platters gave it 5 stars, Tim Atkin gave it 93 points, and my ouma had three glasses before passing out under the table).

All of the abovementioned institutions (Ouma included) know how to reach the bottom of a bottle with aplomb, so one would be silly to dismiss their accolades. But there should be, I believe, something a little extra in any supposed five-star bottle of wine.

Platters gave it 5 stars, Tim Atkin gave it 93 points, and my ouma had three glasses before passing out under the table.

So perhaps the reason I took exception this wine was not because it was bad (in fact, the class is undeniable). But rather because it failed to surprise. If I’m going to pay north of R240 for a bottle of wine, I want to be taught a sensory lesson by what I’m drinking. I want to have the world opened to me as I lean over the glass.
I believe my analogy of any performance by The National is wortg repeating. I don’t avoid them because they lack talent (nay nay), but rather because you can be helluva sure that they are never going to surprise you. Heck, I have friends who put their children to sleep with The National playing softly next to the crib. Because ain’t nobody able to stay awake through all that.

Some Syrahs that WILL Surprise you

About the Author

Jono Le Feuvre is not a bean counter. He is a bean roaster. Bean roasters carry far more street cred & get to speak at bizarre niche gatherings of enquiring-but-unhinged-minds. They also usually have addictive tendencies. When he is not roasting beans he is pulling corks. Or deftly removing screwcap enclosures. But you can read more about him here.