In this week’s blog I want to introduce you to the seventh most grown grape throughout the globe. Syrah (si-ra) is also known as Shiraz in Australia and is a dark-skinned grape that is used primarily to produce red wine. It is used as a single varietal and as a blend. Syrah is one of the darkest Red Wines produced. It is even darker than Cabernet Sauvignon.
Syrah has a long and documented history of originating in the Northern Rhône Valley region of southeastern France. Today there are eight Syrah wine regions with roughly 460,000 acres of vines planted worldwide. These eight regions consist of:
- France (169,000 acres)
- Australia (105,000 acres)
- Spain (49,000 acres)
- Argentina (32,000 acres)
- South Africa (25,000 acres)
- United States (23,000 acres)
- Italy (17,000 acres)
- Chile (15,000 acres)
Taste and Flavors
Syrah wines are or can be powerfully flavored and medium- to full-bodied. Most Syrah wines have large amounts of mouth-drying tannins. Full-bodied wines literally feel heavy in your mouth. But Syrahs can be blended to be lighter and less tannic. Aromas from Syrah wines are red berries, chocolate, coffee and pepper. On the palate you’ll notice dark fruit flavors such as blackberry, black cherry and plums. The finish offers flavors of smoke, vanilla bean and then a peppery note in its after-taste finish which is often of a good length and provides a chewy mouthfeel.
Eric Kent 2011 Kalen’s Big Boy Blend Syrah, Sonoma County
This is the bottle of Syrah I selected from my wines to report on for you. Kent Humphrey is the winemaker for this lovely Syrah Blend. Kent is also our winemaker for our Glenwood Cellars Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
There were 259 cases of this 2011 Syrah produced and it is a three-vineyard blend. The alcohol content is 14.6%. According to the winemaker, the wine’s drinking window was up to 2018 and the wine would gracefully age after 2019.
“Since our inaugural 2004 bottling, we’ve been incrementally fine-tuning Kalen’s Blend to reflect the tremendous diversity of Sonoma County vineyards and our own appreciation for some of its cooler climate sites. While a boisterous personality is always the cornerstone of Kalen’s, the blend has evolved into something more. To its signature opulence and muscularity, we’ve added further refinement and complexity resulting in a wine that strives to offer the best of both worlds. After eight vintages, Kalen’s is in the process of growing up! 2011 sports a darkly brilliant purple hue leading to deep waves of black cherry, cassis, framboise and blueberry with black pepper, smoke and earth notes lurking in the background. This vintage does a stellar job of balancing fine tannins and persistent acidity with rich fruit and depth to keep everything both juicy and structured. No doubt a big, full-bodied wine but with great poise and presentation. We would ideally recommend at least 6 months to a year before opening your first bottle and expect this to be star in the cellar through 2020 and beyond.”
Carl’s Tasting Notes
This wine lived up to the Syrah reputation for being a deep ruby red in color. The nose was vibrant as it opened producing aromas of berries, smoke and pepper. The aromas seemed to change in intensity as the wine opened such as the hint of pepper which became stronger. On the palate the wine had a range of flavors such as black cherries, smoke, pepper and bacon. The finish was of a good length with hints of pepper as you swallowed the wine. It was a full-bodied wine that was enjoyable.
If you haven’t tried a Syrah in some time, I recommend that you get a couple bottles to try over the coming months. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to always have some in your wine cellar. It pairs well with heavier foods.
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Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- December 20 – National Sangria Day
- December 31 – National Champagne Day