Made in tiny quantities, Richard Kershaw MW’s wines are always in high demand. Born in Sheffield, Richard trained and worked as a chef before discovering wine. After extensive travelling he settled in South Africa in 1999, and by 2009 he was Group Winemaker at Mulderbosch and Kanu. He established Kershaw Wines in 2012, specialising in the cool-climate wines of Elgin. Being one of the few MW’s to make his own wine, he uses his vast knowledge to craft stunning wines that are easily a match for some of the world’s very best wines.
2017 experienced a cool winter with low rainfall. Budbreak took place in warm conditions with flowering occurring earlier than normal. Strong blustery winds resulted in an uneven berry set and consequently smaller berries with good flavour concentration. An unusually cool December slowed ripening, while January rains during véraison nourished the soils. Cool night time temperatures enabled good colour and flavour formation, retention of acidity and steady phenolic ripeness. The 2017 wines show excellent natural acidity, pure and penetrating fruit flavours and fine powdery tannins.
The grapes come from five small vineyard parcels in several locations in the Elgin Valley. Elgin is the coolest wine region in South Africa and is situated on an inland, hexagonalshaped plateau, at an altitude of 300 metres. The region is surrounded by mountains and lies just over six miles from the Atlantic Ocean, which brings occasional sea-borne mists. February is the hottest month of the year, with daytime temperatures peaking at 23°C and night-time temperatures dipping to 14°C. The benefit of this cooler climate, is that the grape cluster stays connected to its roots for longer, so it develops complex characteristics and achieves physiological ripeness more gradually, resulting in lower sugar levels and consequently lower alcohol levels. The Syrah clones SH9c and SH22 flourish in the Bokkeveld Shale and Cartref soils, which offer good drainage and produce elegant wines. The grapes were hand-picked and manually sorted.
The destemmed grapes were transferred to small open-topped fermenters. A three-day maceration was followed by spontaneous fermentation with wild yeasts. Gentle pigeage took place and skin contact lasted for 20 to 26 days, before being run off and the remaining marc being gently basket pressed. The wine was racked by gravity to barrel where malolactic conversion took place. Maturation in French oak lasted for 17 months. Each clone and soil type was micro vinified as separate batches. 41.5% was matured in new oak, with 23.6% aged in 228-litre barriques, 69.8% in 500-litre casks and 6.6% in ‘breathable’ concrete eggs. Bottled without fining or filtration.
A subtle, precise style of Syrah built on fine tannins that educe harmony and freshness with flavours of black fruits, iodine and ground white peppercorns.
• 94 Points, Tim Atkin MW, 2019
• Decanter 97 Points, 2020