What comes to mind when you think about Shiraz? A dark powerful wine filled with a tannic burst of fruit, vanilla, and pepper. Recent DNA testing determined that it’s likely a genetic ancestor of the Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche grapes, thick dark skinned grapes rarely used in wines today. Eventually Syrah developed in the Northern Rhone Valley nurturing on the granite based soils, resistant to the climate of the Burgundy region in France and used as the key ingredient in delicious blends such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage.
Also, there is a theory out there that syrah originated in Shiraz, Iran where they produced Shirazi wine. By the mid 1840’s Syrah made its way to Australia and quickly dominated with its thick skin thriving in the sun. Today, the prominent Shiraz regions remain the Rhone Valley, Southern Australia and some smaller production areas globally.
For those Syrah lovers, here are some recommendations:
1) 2005 Septima Syrah from Argentina, Mendoza – Dark chocolate mocha, a hair of mint, and notes of earth and leather lining the mouth with velvet tannins and a full body finish. At $12.99, it’s a big wine that will certainly make you wish you bought a case.
2) Peter Lehmann’s Clancy’s from Australia, Barossa Valley – A variety of dark fruits is proffered with black cherry and plum predominating. The spice palate is shot through with everything from allspice to white pepper. For $15.99, it really over-delivers at it’s modest price point.
3) 2006 Groom Barossa Valley Shiraz by Daryl Groom, the former winemaker for Pensfold Grange – Nice fruit forward wine with hints of anise, peppers, blackberries and a touch of vanilla. For $34.99 this is one of the best Australian Shiraz we have tasted in years.