Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy – Rockin’ Good Syrahs
Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy. Well-aged wine lovers like me who remember this 1971 album by The Who (I was 10, OK?) will agree that the name of this album aptly describes some of Syrah’s primary elements. For you youngsters who don’t get what I’m talking about, here goes: Syrah tends to be “meaty” – aromas and flavors of sweet smoked meat (bacon, anyone?) or game meats are often evident. As to “beaty,” Syrah marches to a beat of it’s own – it’s often a quirky wine with complex aromas and flavors. About “big,” well, duh – Syrah is usually a big wine, with intense aromas and a big mouthfeel. “Bouncy” – refer to “beaty.”
I recently tasted a bunch of Syrah and other California Rhône wines and was pleasantly surprised by the results – of the wines I tasted, all were really good and most were reasonably priced. There wasn’t a dog in the bunch.
2009 Syrah, Mendocino County $28
If Jim Morrison of the band The Doors was still alive and oh-so-hot, this wine would be him. Picture him is in the kitchen, wearing only low-slung black leather pants with a silver concho belt, cooking a breakfast of French toast with fresh blackberries and bacon as he hums “Light My Fire.”
2008 Altitude 2401 Syrah, Dark Forest, El Dorado
This delicious wine is loaded with aromas and flavors of sun-warmed black fruit (plums, blackberries and cherries), enhanced by notes of mocha and savory green herbs. Big and plush in the mouth. Picture a semi-clad Marvin Gaye (if he was still alive and sexy) reclining on a picnic blanket, offering you ripe blackberries, plums and a sip of his mocha. Heaven.
2009 Syrah, Anna Mac Vineyard, Mendocino County $20
In a word, yum! This classic Syrah is absolutely delicious! Aromas of mocha, black fruit, smoked meat and pepper continue as flavors in the densely textured mouth. Picture John Mayer onstage, singing and playing his heart out on his final encore. Sweat beads on his forehead and slowly runs down the side of his face – he is lost in his music. Backstage, an artisan BLT sandwich and a steaming mocha (and a gaggle of women) await him.
2008 Axiom Syrah, Russian River Valley $33
This racy wine reminds me of Shakira performing her song “Hips Don’t Lie.”
It’s spicy hot, but in a very, very good way. Aromas and flavors of pepper, almost sweet gingerbread spice and wildflowers abound, all wrapped up in a slinky, sexy mouthfeel and linger through the finish.
2009 Syrah, Sondra’s, Mendocino County $16
Alluring scents of spice box, white pepper and ripe blackberry continue as flavors in the luscious, juicy mouth. This ain’t no Justin Bieber wine – it is big, bold, dark spicy and sexy, in a very sophisticated and grownup way. It’s Elvis Presley at his hottest, driving all the young girls crazy…
2010 Syrah, Steinbeck Vineyards, Paso Robles $24
Here on Planet Wine Wench, we would call this delicious wine a “fruit bomb,” meaning that aromas and flavors of ripe plum, blackberry, blueberry, black cherry and orange peel abound. The mouthfeel is velvety smooth and richly textured. It is way too easy to enjoy – almost a guilty pleasure. It’s Bruno Mars in a bottle.
2009 Syrah Du Soleil, Sonoma County $40
This is a big, brawny, spicy, sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of wine, with oodles of black cherry, Old Bay spice and savory herbs in the nose and mouth. The mouthfeel is huge, yet smooth and it lingers on and on. It’s Lenny Kravitz, onstage, pouring his soul into his songs. OK, I’ll admit it – I have a thing for Lenny Kravitz. Oh, yum.
2008 Côtes-du-Rôbles, Paso Robles $22
This sassy wine is juicy and spicy, with baskets of ripe plum, blueberry, blackberry and black cherry aromas and flavors, complimented by peppery spice notes. It’s Adam Lambert doing his thing onstage.
2009 Grenache, Jon Vincent, Mendocino County $15
Like exploring the attic with Elton John in the summertime – you never know what you’ll find! Aromas of dusty roses, spice potpourri, sun-warmed plums, blackberries, raspberries and vanilla continue as flavors in the juicy, plush mouth.
2008 Syrah, El Dorado (contact the winery for pricing and availability)
Picture Jon Bon Jovi, wearing only cutoff denims, grilling steaks in the backyard, where there are ripe blackberries growing on the fence and the plum trees are heavy with fruit. Rock music blares from the house as Jon offers you a taste of steak…That’s this wine.