Leave Me A Rhône!
Syrah (also called Shiraz in Australia) is originally from the Rhône 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.
I tasted a goodly handful of Syrahs from all over California and the following four wines were my favorites:
2008 Syrah, El Dorado County $28
What a sexy wine! It is big, intense and packed with aromas and flavors of ripe plum, blackberry, cherry pipe tobacco and dark chocolate, all wrapped up in a richly textured mouthfeel. This wine is Lenny Kravitz, wearing a velvet smoking jacket (and nothing underneath it), smoking a pipe. A mocha steams on his bedside table next to a plate of ripe plums and blackberries…
2008 Syrah, Russian River Valley $45
Oooh – spicy! Alluring aromas of potpourri spice, plum, blackberry and black pepper continue as flavors in the juicy, balanced mouth. This wine is late-night TV host Craig Ferguson, dusted with pepper and baking spices, lounging on a velvet couch, cussing a blue streak. You’d be cussing a blue streak too, if you were dusted with pepper and baking spices, but Craig is extra-spicy…
2007 Côtes-du-Rhône, Paso Robles $24
Picture Penelope Cruz running naked through a field of wildflowers while eating a slab of cherry pie and you’ve got this wine in a nutshell, er, wine glass. It is medium bodied, spicy and a little racy, with abundant aromas and flavors of cherry, pepper and floral notes.
2009 Syrah, Lodi $16
This wine is done in an over-the-top style – it has huge fruit, huge spice and tons of sweet, smoky aromas and flavors, all wrapped up in a huge mouthfeel. It’s Shaq, BBQing ribs with a sweet, smoky sauce in the backyard. Ripe blackberries hang in the background.