Che Syrah Syrah

Circolo Divino
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 to diversify!

The tasti ngtes
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 and observations.

My notes
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 one!