Sassy, Sexy Syrah
Warning – this review is super-wenchy! Must be all the rain on my brain..
If I hear one more tasting room visitor sing “Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be” when I offer to pour a taste of Syrah in their glass, I might just vault over the bar and throttle the poor, unsuspecting consumer. Or I might say something clever to them like “wow, that’s really funny! I’ve never heard that one before!? I would never actually hurt a tourist, but I certainly think about it. That happens when you’ve worked behind a tasting bar for almost 30 years – the mental scenarios are hilarious. One of my favorite fantasies is the hidden trap door that the tourists are standing on in front of the bar. If anyone gets too drunk or obnoxious, I merely push a button and whoosh! The offender drops through the trapdoor and slides oh-so-gently down a chute that deposits them outside. Grin.
The moral of this story is to be nice to your tasting room server. They might have a secret trap door?
OK, back to Syrah – the wine I’m writing about today. Sorry for the rant!
Syrah (also called Shiraz in Australia) is originally from the Rhone Valley in France, but it is grown in many parts of the United States and is becoming one of Australia’s top wines. Syrah (and Shiraz) tends to be a big, full-bodied wine with flavors of blackberry, cherry, green herbs, leather and smoked meat.
Try pairing Syrah with hearty dishes, such as roasted lamb, eggplant parmesan, grilled and smoked meats, stew, chili and robust cheeses.
My panel and I tasted 15 Syrahs from all over California. The following 9 were our favorites (There were lots of rockin’ good wines in this flight!):
2004 Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley $40
In a word, gorgeous! This Syrah seduces with aromas of rose petal, violet, raspberry, cherry and peppery spice. These aromas continue as flavors in the big, velvety mouth. Well worth the price!
2006 Reserve, El Dorado County $25
There is a French word, “garrique,” that one of my wine geek friends turned me on to – it means “hillside wildflowers.” One sniff of this lovely wine and you’re Julie Andrews, running down a wildflower covered hillside, singing “the hills are alive..” I love my job. Seriously, though – aromas of garrique, red cherry, red raspberry, vanilla and spice set the stage, both in the nose and in the mouth. Delicious!
2006 “Syree,” 84% Syrah/16% Petite Sirah, Paso Robles $39
Think Halle Berry decked out in black thigh-high seamed stockings, stiletto heels and very little else, and you’re halfway there. This sexy, spicy wine abounds with aromas and flavors of mocha, plum, black cherry, pepper and a little slap of clean leather, all wrapped up in a big, luscious mouthfeel.
2006 Lodi $28
Huge. Flavorful. Intense. Delicious! Freshly ground coffee, dark chocolate, black cherry, plum and exotic spice meld seamlessly in the nose and in the mouth. This decadently rich wine should come with a warning label, because it’s waay too easy to drink and it packs a 15.5% alcohol content. Oh yeah!
2006 Red Rock Ridge, El Dorado County $32
Just be glad that I’m not Elmer Fudd reviewing this delightful wine – Wed Wock Widge fwom El Dowado. Sorry – couldn’t help myself! It really is a wonderful wine! Mouthwatering aromas of juicy red fruits (raspberry, strawberry, red cherry), baking spices and smoke delight the nose and continue as flavors in the seamless, silky mouth. Delicious! Serve with wabbit.
2007 Lodi $16
I had a feeling about this wine – it is fantastic and a bargain at that! Alluring aromas and flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, plum, white pepper and smoke delight the senses. Medium bodied.
2005, Napa Valley $26
Spicy, sassy and delicious – think Anthony Bourdain, BBQing pork spare ribs, wearing only a smirk, while smoking a clove cigarette and drinking a cherry Coke and you get the picture. Aromas and flavors of black cherry, smoked meat and spice abound. Don’t miss this one!
2006 Steinbeck Vineyard, Paso Robles $21
Oodles of black fruits (black cherry, blackberry, plum) are enhanced by smoked meat and peppery spice, both in the nose and in the mouth. This tasty wine reminded me of sharing a BLT with a side of fruit salad with a loved one, while sitting in a starlit hot tub. Smoky, spicy and slightly naughty, but oh so good!
2007 SLH Estate, Santa Lucia Highlands $22
Big, luscious and velvety, like Queen Latifah wearing a red velvet dress and singing her heart out, this wine beguiles and delights. Aromas and flavors of plum, blackberry, coffee, chocolate and spice linger through the finish. Delightful!
We bloggers are now required by law to state the following: All wine samples were provided complimentary by the participating wineries. Thanks wineries!