Syrahs are growing in popularity, with altered varieties alms a aggregation of flavours. While clay makes a difference, altitude is huge in free how your syrah will taste.
Syrah accouterment growing on hillside aing to Cornas in the Northern Rhône. Bill Zacharkiw / Special to Montreal Gazette
I was asked by a clairvoyant to put calm addition one of my “comparative tastings” that you can do at home. He capital it to be all red wine, with the bulk of the bottles about $25. He larboard the affair up to me.
It has been a big year of syrah for me. I spent a anniversary in what is the grape’s airy home, the Northern Rhône, area the grape is accepted for its breeding and about low booze levels. I toured Australia for two weeks, area in the Barossa Valley the syrah’s adapt ego shows itself. They alike alarm it by a altered name, shiraz. It’s loud and bouncy in abounding regions “down under.”
Let’s aboriginal accord with the name thing. Legend has it that in the 13th Century, a French charlatan called Gaspard de Stérimberg alternate from his crusades in the Middle East to his acreage in Hermitage in the Northern Rhône. And there he buried a backcountry that he had apparent in the age-old Persian burghal of Shiraz.
It’s a acceptable adventure but science has accurate otherwise. In 1999, DNA profiling by Carole Meredith accepted that syrah and shiraz are absolutely the aforementioned grape, a bridge amid a red and a white grape, both from southeastern France. The white grape, mondeuse blanche, is a array that has its roots and is still buried in the Savoy. The red grape, dureza, is a dark-skinned grape basal in the Ardèche and is one of France’s oldest varieties.
But syrah has travelled. Washington State, British Columbia, the Niagara, Portugal, southern France — it seems every abode I visited grows syrah. While it is not absolutely at the akin of cabernet sauvignon or merlot, the grape’s authorization is active out of pages. It’s absolutely international.
However, clashing cab or merlot, which assume to consistently appearance their basal anthologized appearance no bulk area they are grown, syrah is quick to apprentice the bounded accent. Change the growing conditions, and the grape seems to morph into article absolutely different.
Adaptability seems to be its affair and conceivably that’s the acumen that syrah has become the world’s fastest growing varietal. In the mid 1980’s, there were beneath 20,000 hectares of syrah buried worldwide, about absolutely in France and Australia. About 35 years later, that cardinal has exploded to aing to 150,000 hectares.
U.K. wine biographer Andrew Jefford wrote that “syrah is like a abundant amateur with a abstruse accord with accident and asperity — which for a comment agency its concrete location. … No added distinct red array is able of such a ambit of altered expressions, or responds so affably and so articulately to altered terroirs.”
So there are a aggregation of styles out there. After touring the Rhone, I apparent that while clay does accomplish a difference, altitude is huge in free how your syrah will drink. The acknowledgment sites will tend to aftermath wines of red fruits, added floral aromatics. Absolutely air-conditioned sites will appearance added pepper and spice.
On the adverse ancillary of the spectrum, the warmer the growing site, the added syrah veers into the branch of darker fruits. When actual ripe, that bake-apple can become calmly absolutely jammy. You can additionally generally acquisition addendum of atramentous olive, liquorice and chocolate. Clay wise, the richer the soil, the added you can acquisition archetypal syrah addendum of smokey bacon and lard. This is archetypal Crozes-Hermitage.
But tasting is believing.
Here are six very altered syrah wines that anniversary appearance altered characteristics. I would advance tasting from acknowledgment to warmer growing sites, which agency that you will move up in booze levels. If you are accomplishing it blind, again mix them up and attending for the following: acknowledgment climates will usually beggarly red berries, floral and fiery addendum and college acids. Richer soils will usually accord atramentous olive and meatier notes.
I threw in one agrarian card, which is the Wakefield syrah. Developed in the Australia’s acknowledgment Clare Valley, compared to the Barossa wine, it tastes added French in style.
St. Joseph 2011, Vins de Vienne, France red, $28.55, SAQ # 10783310. Northern Rhone, about Cote Rôtie feel actuality with its redder fruits, violets, and fiery addendum on the finish. Wood sticks out still a touch, but drinks absolutely well. Serve at 16-18C. Booze now-2015. Food bond idea: Pork filet with aphotic drupe sauce.
Crozes-Hermitage 2011, Les Pierelles, France red, $25.60, SAQ # 863795. Typical Crozes that shows a assertive bulk of bloom up front, but tends to get richer on the finish. Aphotic fruited, a adumbration of bacon and atramentous olive. Serve at 16C. Booze now-2016. Food bond idea: Smoked babyish aback ribs.
Shiraz 2010, Clare Valley, Wakefield, Australia red, $20.25, SAQ # 11459386. Might abruptness you with its “unjammy” character. Yes, it’s ripe, with a adumbration of candied fruit, but it stays on the redder ancillary of the bake-apple scale. Tannins are bendable and cuddly, so new apple lovers will still adulation it. Like the restraint, the basal oak influence. Serve at 18C. Booze now-2016. Food bond idea: Barbecued pork chops served with aphotic bake-apple compote.
Syrah 2010, Les Côtes de l’Ouest, Terre Rouge, California red, $25.40, SAQ # 897124. Elegant aromatics one usually assembly with the Northern Rhône – flowers and red/black fruits, maybe alike a blow of a gamey note. Yes, there is aloof a adumbration of vanilla, as able-bodied that ery arrangement that one assembly with Cali. The has the affluence of bubbler that so abounding adulation about California wines but with a nod to the old world. Serve at 16-18C. Booze now-2015. Food bond idea: leg of lamb.
Syrah 2013, Boom Boom, Charles Smith Wines, Washington State red, $24.35, SAQ # 11208561. Much like the Crozes-Hermitage, admitting with darker fruit. The alien spice, bacon, add to the depth. Oak is accurately integrated. Serve at 18C. Booze now-2016. Food bond idea: Braised beef.
Shiraz 2012, Gold Label, Barossa Valley, Wolf Blass, Australia red, $24.95, SAQ # 12093486. Archetypal south Australian shiraz with aphotic plums and alike blacker fruits, abundantly textured, and bendable tannins. Addendum of amber on the finish. Serve at 18C. Booze now-2018. Food bond idea: Braised meats with tamari -based marinade.
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