This time the theme was Syrah or Shiraz. or as I like to call
it Syraz. Any way you slice it, it is the grape of the Rhone Valley
and Australia. Now making appearances in Argentina, South Africa,
Italy and the Okanagan in BC. It favors hot climates and is capable
of producing long-lived elegant and perfumed wines. Each of us
brought a bottle of at least 75% Syrah/Shiraz.
From my experience Syrah and I haven’t crossed paths too
many times. The two most popular places they grow, Australia and
Southern France are far from the Cavalli wine list. Shiraz from
Australia tends to be super fruity, powerful and concentrated
while French Syrah have more acidity, less fruity more terroir
notes. (celery, anise). I work primarily with Italian and Californian
wines and can spot a sangiovese in the dark. This was my chance
Six wines were decanted and poured in the six glasses were in
front of each of us. I felt a small rush from the unknown. For
the first half hour silence, sniffs and the scratching of pencils
is all that was heard. During this time, Dominique says “there’ll
all quite different eh?” I was knee-deep concentration and
at the time had just completed my sweep of initial sniffs. In
my notes, I noticed that four wines had very similar notes of
celery root and licorice. So I pipe up and announce my findings.
“I think there’s something that links them all”.
They all burst out in laughter. My million dollar affirmation
didn’t come out they way I wanted it to. Natalie took notes
on all of our findings
My favorite wine of the tasting was wine #2 the Saint Joseph from
Guigal. It was the most complex, most perfumed, balanced and had
the most potential for aging. Wonderful varietal notes of violets
and pepper. A little tight and closed, but its potential for greatness
was very obvious.The one that intrigued me the most was the last
wine. The Ferrer-Ribière, Mémoire des Temps, Côtes
du Roussillon 2004. It is a blend of Syrah, Carignane and Grenache.
At first foxy or animal notes along with celery -vegetal notes
jumped out and the wine seemed weak on the palate hinting at perhaps
a weak vintage and the grapes were unripe at time of harvest.
I pushed it aside and my judgment of this wine was made. It was
the most different of all.
Ten minutes later, its nose changed to remind me of the olive
fougasse from the Premiere Moisson Bakery . Then sure enough it
changed one more time to a blooming of violets. The transformation
of this wine from one stage to another was surreal. Like a striptease.
The wine and its three grape varietals exposed itself slowly one
layer and one 80’s-hair-band-ballad at a time. First the
rustic animal foxy notes of its Grenache grape, then the black
olive rosemary notes of its carignane grape and finally the silky
floral violet notes of the Syrah.
The wine that I brought was the Pian di Nova 2004 IGT from Salvatore
Ferragamo’s estate near Arezzo, Tuscany. 75% Syrah and 25%
Sangiovese. It gave off dark berry notes. I said it smelled like
blueberries macerating on the stovetop and Ryan added that it
had a sort of candy component. Almost like a fruit roll up. medium
bodied and firm integrated tannins it pleased everyone because
of its balance. I think it came 2nd or 3rd in terms of popularity
of the wines brought. I ranked it third.
The tasting was a huge success and I learned a few things about
Syraz. Kudos to Dave for being a great host and a shout out to
Ryan from the Liverpool House. He contributed great stuff to the
group and even guessed one of the wines! See you guys at the next