Minimalist Wines Stars in the Dark Syrah 2021

Tasting Notes

Minimalist Wines is a new entity under the tutelage of owner/winemaker Sam Lampson, who started his boutique operation in 2018. Just a youngster, in his early 20’s, Sam represents the new generation of young winemakers who are reshaping the South African wine scene,  having worked harvests with some of the Cape’s leading winemaker’s, Carl van der Merwe, Lukas van Loggerenberg and Chris Alheit, respectively, as well as passing his WSET3 exam, with distinctions  before he started his own venture helping him hone his skills as well as energizing his passion for making wine, in particular, cool climate Syrah.

In this short amount of time the wines have been given rave reviews and have taken on an almost cult-like following for his Syrah. Sourced out of the cool climate, windswept ward of Elim in the Cape Agulhas ward, at the most southerly tip of Africa, the wines are quite unique and speak of their cool climate origin. The star of the lineup of this small production portfolio is the Minimalist Stars In The Dark Syrah and a small allotment of the 2021 has just recently arrived into our warehouse. We expect big reviews following in the likes of the wine’s previous vintages. Jancis Robinson MW, has previously referenced the Stars in the Dark Syrah as ‘dead ringer for a Cote Rotie’, which we know are priced at a much higher premium.  South Africa makes world class Syrah and this gives a glimpse of that quality at an over-delivering price.

Winery: Stars in the Dark
Varietal: Shiraz
SKU: STADARSYR2021 Categories: ,
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Stars in the Dark Syrah



94 pts Vinous Sept 2022

The 2021 Syrah Stars In The Dark comes from two parcels, one on clay and the other on Koffieklip soil, matured for 10 months in neutral 228 and 300-litre Ooak barrels. Winemaker Sam Lambson told me that he is seeking to express the rotundone element of the variety, essentially the “peppery” element. It certainly comes across here with lovely red berry fruit, white pepper, fennel and thyme. It’s quite understated with a degree of transparency. That theme follows through on the palate that is beautifully balanced with fine tannins, elegant red fruit mixed with thyme and black olive, the latter imparting salinity that begs you back for another sip. Wonderful.

Winemaker Notes

“Some of the best things in life emerge from tough times and dark places”.

This is the message on the back label and It’s no secret that growing conditions at the southern tip of Africa are extreme but the resilience of these Syrah vines from Cape Agulhas continues to astonish and delight us.

With it’s pronounced salt and pepper flavour profile that is the hallmark of Cape Agulhas Syrah, the nose is led by red cherry and violets, followed by smoked bacon, green olive brine, white pepper and dried buchu. It has a medium bodied palate, with concentrated fruit coating an intensely umami core: soy, brine brightened by orange zest on the finish with fine tannins.

All the fruit was harvested from two cool climate, low-altitude Syrah parcels (50m above sea level), just 8km from the stark and blustery coast. Facing North West, one 21-year old parcel is planted on Clay and the other (22 years) on Koffieklip soils. As always, we like to let the sites do the talking, so the fruit was matured for 10 months in neutral French Oak, in 228L and 300L barrels.

An unseasonally hot dry spell in August followed by a cool Spring meant this growing season was far from textbook and Mother Nature kept us on our toes! After early leaf fall and uneven bud burst, wind and frequent showers persisted during flowering. High humidity late into the growing season caused high Botrytis and Mildew pressure, then cool weather delayed harvest by three weeks. Though the result was reduced yield, being attentive in the vineyards has paid off.

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