The Spice of Syrah
The summer attire is going back in the wardrobe for another season; autumn is on its way, the leaves are falling and the warming spices are coming out of the cupboards ready for the winter menu’s.
When I think of spice, or when somebody comes into the store looking for a wine to pair with a hearty spicy lamb dish, I think of Syrah- or Shiraz, depending on what country you are in!
The Red Rhone variety is a perfect match for this time of year. The more high-end examples will deliver wonderfully complex noses that develop meaty, bacon fat like aromas with age. New world examples from South Africa and Australia display a little more generosity on the fruit side of things, and in my experience tend to be a little more opulent and juicy. There are of course exceptions but as a sweeping statement, these are the main differences.
Rhone Valley Red Wines
The Rhone Valley is one of France’s premier viticultural regions. It travels from north to south along the Rhone River from the city of Lyon almost down to the Mediterranean coast. The Region is split into two sub-regions, Northern and Southern. The Northern Rhone wines focus more or less on Syrah only, and on the whole tend to be more quality driven (less than 10% of the entire regions production)
The Southern Rhone Valley is larger than the north, and less rigid in the sense of what is permitted inside the bottle. The Syrah grape is blended with Grenache, Mourvedre and whatever else is growing amongst the old vines to create the famous wines of Cotes du Rhone, Cotes du Rhone Village, Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Cairanne and so on. This style is mirrored throughout the world- ever seen a ‘GSM’ blend from Australia? There is your proof!
The versatility of the Syrah grape, to stand-alone or line up, next to up to a dozen other varietals has made it a favourite amongst winemakers and wine drinkers the world over.
This month we are having a special focus on the Syrah/Shiraz varietal in store; in particular on the wines of Jean-Luc-Colombo. We have a number of his wines ready to sample in the WineEmotion machines, and the top class Cornas from ‘Les Ruchets’ vineyard.
Jean-Luc is somewhat a talking point in the Rhone Valley. Some of his approaches to winemaking and viticulture have come under scrutiny from other winemakers in the region. At the end of the day, it is the wine that does the talking and I am a big fan of his range (from the Picpoul to the single vineyard wines of Les Ruchets and Les Terres Brulees).
This month we are celebrating all of the wonderful complex spices that Syrah/Shiraz has to offer. Please note that these two names are one in the same. There is an old story that the Syrah grape hales from the town of Shiraz, Iran- hence the double name.
But who really knows.
All the wines below are available to buy online and in the M Wine Store and are fantastic expressions of new and old world Syrah. Don’t forget this is just a few of many. Click on the links to follow them to the M Wine Store webpage…
A full bodied 100% Syrah from the Northen Rhone. Chunky and juicy on the palate with a brilliant balance between tannins and acidity. The nose is full of dark berries, liquorice, sweet spice from two years ageing in 100% new French oak barriques. This is what Cornas has to offer without the crazy price tag. A truly great wine.
From arguably the best producer in Chateauneuf de Pape. The 1995 vintage is simply wonderful! There are not many miles left in this bottle so it needs to be consumed in the next 12 months.
A complex nose of nutmeg, stewed red and black fruits with a touch of meatiness. The palate is soft, medium bodied, with silky tannins and a finish that refuses to go away. Well worth the price point.
From the Colombia Valley, Washington State. This area is fast growing in popularity, more so for the Bordeaux varietals; but this cooler climate Syrah is a breath of fresh air. The nose is vibrant with black and blue berries, with medicinal, herbal undertones. The palate is soft and creamy with chalky tannins and persistent acidity. Drinking beautifully now, please give this wine a go, its one for those who are open to trying something a little off piste!
Thanks for reading and happy drinking!
M Wine Store