I was honored to be asked to share some of my favorite wines here with Cur8eur Online, and of course I jumped at the chance. After all, what wine geek doesn’t want to take to the rooftops screaming, “CHECK THIS SHIT OUT!!!” when he discovers something especially delicious?
As Curator of Le Metro – Wine. Underground. I spend a lot of time tasting wine. (And writing about wine, and reading about wine, and talking about wine… just ask my wife.) Each month I get to select a different theme and build a collection of six awesome bottles around it – usually something that matches the season and also ties in with current events in the wine world. This month, with winter in mind as well as Valentine’s Day, I went with a grape variety that’s both seductive and heartwarming, as well as being tragically underrated by most wine drinkers: Syrah.
Syrah is a fickle one; capable of both power and subtlety, brightness and spice, it can express sweetness as well as savory notes. A chameleon despite certain hallmark characteristics, Syrah is embodied in different forms around the world. Le Metro Volume IX: Seduced by Syrah showcases the wines that most stood out to me over several weeks of sampling. Normally I don’t reveal them unless you purchase the full edition, but here are the wines I included!
- j. brix wines, 2012 La Belle Rêveuse Syrah, Alamo Creek Vineyard, San Luis Obispo County, CA. Emily and Jody Towe live and work right here in San Diego but have deep ties to some of Santa Barbara’s finest vineyards. Their Syrah is a fresh and expressive wine, especially after decanting. Bright and juicy, it also expresses many of the savory notes (like bacon!) that are typical of this variety.
- Domaine Faury, 2011 Saint Joseph, Saint Joseph (Northern Rhône), France. France’s Rhône River Valley is Syrah’s birthplace. Faury Saint Joseph displays a perfect harmony of soft fruit, integrated tannins, and food-friendly acidity, as well as enough earthy rusticity to impart a deep sense of place.
- Fausse Piste, 2011 Garde Manger, Columbia Valley, WA. Although the fruit for this Syrah comes from select vineyards in Washington’s Columbia Valley it is vinified in downtown Portland, Oregon. This is a real crowd-pleaser, the one to default to when you want to drink something dark red and delicious that is not intimidating. It’s got everything you want in a Syrah: spice, richness, tannins and soul.
- Enfield Wine Co, 2011 Haynes Vineyard Syrah, Coombsville, Napa County, CA. John Lockwood tops the list of California winemakers whom you’ve probably never heard of but undoubtedly soon will, as he was recently named by the San Francisco Chronicle as a “Winemaker to Watch in 2014” as well as being mentioned in The New York Times. The Haynes Vineyard, in Napa’s newest sub-appellation, has a high concentration of alluvial gravel and volcanic ash, and the result brims with spice, smoke, and personality.
- Charles Cimicky, 2010 Invisible Man Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia. This wine is here to answer the question once and for all: Shiraz is the same grape as Syrah. It gets mighty warm in this part of the world, and the extreme ripeness that results is one of the primary characteristics that distinguish Australian “Shiraz” from the rest of the world’s “Syrah.” This here is one big, badass bottle of wine – yet it expresses a great deal of elegance.
- Shingleback, NV Black Bubbles Sparkling Shiraz, The Davey Vineyard, McLaren Vale, Australia. Sparkling Shiraz is the most controversial style of Syrah in the world – so of course I had to include one in this collection. Despite a bit of sweetness, this is a serious, food-worthy wine. Dark in color and luxuriously bubbly, there’s something undeniably seductive about it.