Savoring American SyrahOctober 28th, 2011 by Alan A. Barone
A few years ago, all bets were on for Syrah to be the new emerging grape for California, maybe even the next Cabernet Sauvignon. In particular, the Central Coast, Sonoma and Mendocino each have steadily increased their plantings of Syrah for the previous fifteen years with hopes of increasing market share. But, sadly the predictions never became reality and sales remain in a downward trend
So let’s clear the air: there have been some very average examples of Syrah produced in California…but there have been some outstanding models that truly define California’s potential. There are many winemakers that indeed feel that Syrah will eventually strike a positive chord to the wine community. They contend that grapes grown in cooler areas, like Sonoma and Mendocino produce a somewhat leaner-styled wine that is a more elegant expression. Comparable to France, that this may only be accomplished on a smaller scale and at particular sites. California wineries will continue to hone their skills necessary to enhance Syrah and its reputation and marketplace
Washington wine makers believed a decade ago that Syrah would be an excellent varietal to join with their successful and distinctive Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. It had become the third most planted red grape in the state. Similar to California, consumer purchases of Syrah declined in 2010, stunning wine producers. But an interesting and positive trend did emerge later that year. It seems that wine makers decided to blend Syrah with other grapes, thus, creating new styles of premium wines at reasonable price points.
Which ever the style, this versatile, Rhone-style wine is here to stayPlease enjoy these value suggestions for $20 or under:
2007 Robert Hall, Rhone de Robles, Central Coast
Primarily a Syrah and Grenache blend. Aromas of red fruit with a hint of black pepper and spice with delicate flavors of cherry and cranberry.
2007 Cline, Cool Climate Syrah, Sonoma
Big, full-bodied wine with smoky, dark berry aromas that carry through to the palate with ripe blackberry and plum tones.
2007 Liberty School Syrah, Central Coast
Floral and cherry scents lead to blackberry, boysenberry flavors with hints of cedar and earth over a soft texture
2008 Chateau Ste Michelle Syrah, Columbia Valley
This straight-forward red is blended with 5% Voignier and offers ripe fruit aromas that open-up on the palate with soft, dark berry, vanilla and light smoke flavor notes.
2008 Qupe Syrah, Central Coast
A pleasant, delicate, light-bodied wine with cranberry and cherry aromas and flavors and spice undertones.