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.
Argentina is an up and coming wine region in South America. The Mendoza region is the largest winemaking region in Argentina, with around 370,000 acres of vines. Clos de Los Siete is an oasis comprised of seven vineyards in the foothills of the Andes, south of Mendoza. I raise my glass to the manager of the winery, Michel Rolland who helped develop this Bordeaux influenced wine region. Rolland, a famed wine consultant to Chateau Pavie-Macquin, put together a group of Bordeaux wine families to invest in vineyards in the Andes foothills south of Mendoza.
The 2007 Clos de Los Siete is a supurb blend of 48% Malbec, 28% Merlot, 12% Syrah, and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, offering a bouquet of toasty oak, violets, mineral, black currant, blueberry, and black cherry. Ripe sweet and seamless, it admirably hides the tannin under all of the fruit. It is a 90+ point wine and $17 on sale at Wines.com. This price is quite modest, as it drinks better than most $50 blends.
If you looking for a good value wine, try a Malbecs from Argentina. I recommend the Telteca Anta Malbec. Old vine, reserve-level, solidly oaked, from the high desert in Argentina’s Mendoza province, this wine will redefine what you think about Malbecs. Telteca’s Anta line uses hand harvested grapes, vinified with indigenous yeasts and controlled malolactic fermentation. Twelve months of oak-aging, utilizing 100% first-use, new barrels, followed by nine months of bottle aging before release produces a Malbec of exceptional quality. Profound, intense red-tinged-with-violet in the glass. Thick black fruits and vanilla on the nose. Distinct, characteristic spiced red berries begin the palate attack, with honeyed, rounded tannins wrapping the package. An elegant grip, structure and density pervade this wine. All contribute to give this wine a value far beyond its modest price, around $17. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate agrees, giving the 2004 vintage 92 points. This is not your average grocery store Malbec.