Up Close and Personal with Syrah
Greetings friends and patrons of The Wine Connection! I hope everyone is enjoying their start to October and, like I covered in our last blog, the change in seasonal flavors all around us.
This week I would like to focus on one of my new favorite red grape varietals: Syrah. I am not a Syrah junkie per-say, but I have had a few expressions that I really love. I’ve had some of the best of the best (1983 Jaboulet’s Hermitage) and plenty of your run-of-the-mill value Syrah (2018 Papillon Crozes-Hermitage). Specifically I wanted to try some non-French examples recently, so I sought out some selections from the myriad of shelves in the shop. I landed on the 2004 Mitolo ‘G.A.M.’ Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia and the 2017 Radio Coteau ‘Las Colinas’ Syrah from Sonoma Coast, California.
I first wanted to talk about some typical behavior of the Syrah grape and mention some possible food pairings to set the scene. Syrah is a grape that originated in Southern France and is used to make both varietal wines and red blends worldwide. In the Northern Rhone Valley Syrah is permitted to blended with a small bit of Viognier to amplify its pretty aromatics. Typically when used as a blending grape, Syrah is used in sparing quantities because of its brooding force. I’ve had the experience myself of being able to detect Syrah in a blended red wine in ratio of less than 5% of the blend. When tasting Syrah, hallmark characteristics are pretty, candied red and blue fruits – especially candied blueberry. And when grown and vinified properly, a bouquet of herbs and olive tapenade are present. Even the savory aromas of a charcuterie board with cured pork fat. As you can imagine, Syrah pairs nicely with cured meats. It also goes incredibly well with grilled herb crusted lamb or braised, rich and dense meat dishes like beef Genovese or a pork ragu.
Now that I’ve got your mouths watering I’m going to tell my story about the wines I mentioned before that I tasted this past weekend. First thing to note is that these two (2017 Radio Coteau & 2004 Mitolo) had quite a bit of age difference. So naturally we’ll see quite drastic differences between the two wines. Both were opened and allowed to breathe for about 2 hours before serving. They were paired with, surprisingly, grilled herb crusted lamb.
The Mitolo expressed preserved fig aromas and smoke, leather, dried olive and dried meats. The Radio Coteau showed pretty blasts of fresh violets and crunchy red summer fruits with a mixture of candied blueberries, bacon fat, and dried herbs de Provence. Each were very enjoyable and great to flip flop back and forth between during the meal.
If you’ve never tried a food pairing with Syrah, now you’ve got some ideas. The synergy of the flavors of the pairing were one of my favorites I’ve experienced in recent time! In case this sparks your interest at all in trying some Syrah, Radio Coteau’s 2017 Sonoma Coast expression is world-class for just $49.99. And while we have limited bottles of the 2004 Mitolo, we’ve got others we’d love to show off the next time you stop in. See you soon!