Syrah is a tough sell in a restaurant …
And it shouldn’t be that way. When guests are describing what they want in a wine at the table, many guests tell me they want a wine that is big, rich and juicy with a touch of spice. This is the hallmark of Syrah, but they think they are describing Cabernet Sauvignon.
Syrah makes its home in the Northern Rhone Valley in the southern part of France. Nestled along the Rhone River, the hillsides are perfect for Syrah. The rocky soils are great for drainage and allow the vines to dig deep down to the water table. Warm days and cool nights extend the growing season and the river valley makes a wind tunnel to keep humidity in check.
When the English set up the penal colony in Australia, they brought Syrah with them and planted it in the Barossa Valley and Mcleran Vale. These are riper styles than examples from Rhone. As in other parts of Australia, eucalyptus plays a role in the aromatic profile of Australian Syrah. Since sandy soils are prominent in the area, you will find some of the oldest vines still in wine production with some being over 150 years old. As vines age, they produce much less fruit, but with much greater concentration.
North and South American Syrah
You will also find Syrah on the West Coast of both North and South America. Napa Valley and Columbia Valley both make great examples from the US. Casablanca Valley in Chile makes great examples of cool climate Syrah showing a distinct green olive note.
What I am drinking
2016 Domaine Jasmin Cote-Rotie
Aromas of black cherries, raspberries, and flowers emerge from this dark ruby-colored wine. In the mouth, it tastes like a grand cru from the Cotes de Beaune, exhibiting abundant quantities of black fruits, an underlying minerality, exceptional elegance, and good acidity. Pick it up for about $75.
2017 Kaesler Stonehorse Shiraz, Barossa Valley
Inky bright crimson, with a dark center and a youthful edge. Aromas of black cherries, dark fruits of the forest and hints of cassis & spice. A full-bodied wine with a supple mouth feel. Dark berry characters, spice box and liquor ice mingle on the palate. Pick it up for about $25.
Banner and feature grapes images courtesy Pixabay.com
Adam Arlen: “I am passionate about wine because it is history in a bottle.” He is the sommelier for The Peninsula Club in Cornelius, NC. Originally from Allentown, PA, he believes you should always branch out and find new things. His goal is to never stop learning and continuing to grow both personally and professionally. A fun fact about him: “I was a nuclear engineer on a submarine in a previous life.”
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