Shiraz vs. Syrah – The best of both worlds!

One of the great things about having a wine cellar is not just being able to try great wines, but also being able to compare different styles of wines as well. And, boy, did I get a great experience with that this weekend!

Saturday it was the 2004 Laughing Magpie from d’Arenberg (a Shiraz-Viognier blend) from Australia. What a gorgeous wine…made in honour of the famous Cote Rotie blend in the north of France, this one is easily picked out as Australian by its incredibly ripe, rich fruit.  But it is restrained a bit, not too jammy (must be the Viognier!), with a wonderful touch of licorice on the finish. Truly a great experience…and at under $30, an amazing cellar value…it will last for 5 years easily!

And tonight…the real McCoy! A 2005 Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude from Alain Graillout, one of the stars of that northern appellation and 100% Syrah.

Oh, my…Syrah may be my favourite grape, and this is a classic. Still beautiful dark red, but a classic French Syrah nose of earth, meat (it smelled like the beef stew I served it with) and bacon. Medium body and lean — so different from the lush, full bodied Laughing Magpie — it is amazing in the mouth with its mix of herbal, peppery black fruit. This is fifteen years old and in perfect shape; a privilege to drink!

So two great wines, same grape, is one better than the other?

The answer, of course, is no; both are great, but for different reasons. You would think that is a “no-brainer” answer, but I never ceased to be amazed that some people — including respected critics — will actually come out on one side or another. It tends to come from French wine lovers/haters or their counterparts from the new world.

Seems silly to me. Appreciate a wine for where it came from, how it was made and — ultimately — what it tastes like. That way, you can literally enjoy the best of both worlds.

SB

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