One man’s passion ups the ante of South African Syrah
- The outdoor terrace at Boekenhoutskloof winery invites guests to linger
- Marc Kent
- Cabernet Sauvignon vines at the Franschhoek estate
Winemaker Marc Kent has never looked to advertise or accumulate medals from wine competitions to promote his wines. Instead, Boekenhoutskloof Winery has made its name primarily on critical reviews and word-of-mouth advertising.
“We often say that the quality lies in the second half of the bottle,” says Kent, who helped establish the South African winery in 1994 and has spearheaded its growth from the 500 cases produced in its first vintage to nearly four million made this year.
Much of that growth has come from the winery’s second label, Porcupine Ridge, which has struck a chord with consumers, in part, for being far easier to pronounce than Boekenhoutskloof. It also helps that the fanciful label encompasses a range of popular varietal wines, including Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc that retail for $15 to $18 per bottle in most provinces across Canada.
The Boekenthoutskloof estate in the Franschhoek region has produced wine since 1771, but its output was sold off in bulk. Kent and company arrived with a vision to focus the winery’s efforts primarily on Syrah and Syrah-based blends. The Boekenthoutskloof Syrah stands out as one of the world’s finest examples of the variety. But with less than 1,500 cases made in 2008, it’s hard to come by. The good news is that Porcupine Ridge Syrah represents one of South Africa’s best values and most consistently impressive bottles. The newly released 2011 vintage is one of the best yet, which is a remarkable feat considering how its production levels continue to rise to match global demand. It's also now being sourced exclusively from Swartland, the up-and-coming region that is home to some of the most exciting Cape wines.
“It’s nice to make two or three barrels of premium wine,” Kent says. “But the real challenge lies in producing quality wine in large volumes like Porcupine Ridge.”