Posts Tagged ‘Cassini’

Syrah/Shiraz…France, Australia, North America…what’s the difference?

September 14, 2016

As usual, I have been drinking a lot of Syrah lately, and continue to be amazed at how different the style of the wine can be depending on where it is made/what winemakers want to do with it.

Most people are probably familiar with the Syrah/Shiraz differences…same grape, but made in a different way. Syrah is typically full of peppery black cherries, touch of earth, a bit lean (but not unripe) and no oak at all. Shiraz, on the other hand, is often a fruit bomb – blackberry jam, so ripe it almost appears sweet, and the oak appears as vanilla.

Syrah is most famous in France (northern Rhone, to be specific, where it makes such famous wines as Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Cornas and Cote Rotie). And Shiraz, of course, is almost synonymous with Australia.

But both styles are also made elsewhere, and can be dead ringers for those made in these homelands. Washington State, for example, makes some great Rhone style Syrahs, and I am very proud to say that BC does as well! Cassini Cellars, Moraine, Quinta Ferreira, Moon Curser…all are very nice. And the best is by Nichol Vineyards, which at 8 yrs old is almost indistinguishable from a Crozes Hermitage.

Interestingly, when made elsewhere, Syrah can taste almost totally different!

One of my favourites is California, where many producers balance the Northern Rhone style with additional ripeness (but not the jamminess of Shiraz). Ojai is a good example. But this style also appears elsewhere, including in my home province, where Orofino makes a stunningly ripe wine!

I have also found that when Syrah is made in Italy, Chile and South Africa, it often takes on much more earthiness, and herbalness (if oak is used to age the wine). These wines aren’t my style, but some people swear by them, particularly because the latter examples can be great bargains.

In general, I find that oak — at least overt oak — doesn’t add to my enjoyment of Syrah, adding too much of the Bordeaux style herbs and woodiness.

But that is just me! The important thing is to know the different styles of Syrah, find out what you like, and then follow your style…it may appear in a whole bunch of places you never thought of!

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com

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BC WINES I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS YEAR

March 13, 2013

It’s almost spring – at least that’s what the calendar says – and that means new wine releases are just around the corner (or have already started!).

Here is a quick list of the ones I am looking forward to this year in BC.

1. Kettle Valley – well, they have already been released (and I bought them for my wine club), but the 2010 Reserve Pinot Noir and Hayman Pinot Noir are a great way to start the year off! Always two of the best – if not the best – Pinots from the province, this year is the added bonus of the Hayman being designated as “John’s Block” after the recently departed BC wine legend John Levine.

2. Eau Vivre – this Similkameen winery has also already released its 2010 Pinot Noir, which hopefully follows on the footsteps of its incredible 2008 and 2009 (the latter was a Lieutenant Governor Award winner).

3. Nichol – the 2010 Syrah was just released late in 2012, so it will be a bit of a wait for the 2011, but that will no doubt be worth it for what is the best Rhone-style Syrah made in the province.

4. Blue Mountain – ah, the Striped Label/Reserve Pinot Noir! This was the first great BC wine I ever tasted (the 1996, I believe) and it continues to challenge the Kettle Valley wines each year for Pinot supremacy. Look for the 2010 sometime in April or May.

5. La Frenz – there is no argument among wine dweebs like me: La Frenz is the best overall winery in BC (and Canada, for that matter). May will bring the release of most of their 2012 white wines (the Small Lots Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Semillon are all the best made here, and at about $20 ridiculous values). Also released at that time will be the 2011 Merlot (also the best in BC) and – hopefully – the 2012 Rose, which is perhaps the greatest adult guilty pleasure there is out there! And then the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon in July, again the best fruit-forward Cab in the province.

6. Cassini Cellars – a relative newbie on my “best list”, look for the 2012 Merlot (maybe the best red wine bargain in BC at $18), the 2010 Syrah, 2011 Pinot Noir Reserve and 2010 Chardonnay Reserve, all to be released in May.

7. Howling Bluff – another relatively new addition, their Pinot Noir and Sauvignon/Semillon blend have been amazing (and garnered many awards). Look for the 2011 vintages this spring.

8. Marichel – another Syrah specialist, I can’t wait to taste Richard’s 2010 in the bottle (it was amazing in barrel last summer).

9. Moon Curser – the former Twisted Tree Vineyards, I have really liked the quality of their Syrah and Border Vines (a Bordeaux blend), as well as the unique Rhone white blend Afraid of the Dark. Look for the 2011 vintages of the former and the 2012 of the latter in late spring.

10. Mt. Lehman – last, but not least, my friends from the Fraser Valley who make amazing wine at great prices. Look for the 2010 versions of the Reserve Pinot Noir and Syrah, as well as the 2011 Viognier, all sooner rather than later!

http://www.sbwinesite.com