Syrah wines and smoky grilled meats make perfect pairings

Syrah is a wonderful choice for lazy, smoky summer days. Those unfamiliar can grab a Cab, a Pinot Noir, one of those wonderful Tuscans or Côtes du Rhône that take so long to age. Unfortunately, these are often overwhelmed with flavors of burnt meat and smoke. Those who have tossed a well-seasoned butterfly leg of lamb or a large hunk of thick, tender, marbled beef on the barbie would be well served with what some call Shiraz, Balsamina, Candive, Hignin noir, Marsanne noir, Sirac, Syra or Serene according to country of origin. For our purposes, let’s stay with Syrah or Shiraz. Syrah is not the same as Petite Sirah, whose real name is Durif, a cross between Syrah and Peloursin. Syrah is a black grape variety, a clonal blend of two obscure clones, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. He is omnipresent. The best-known producers are in the Rhone Valley, France; South Africa ; California AVA; the Columbia Valley in Oregon and Washington State; and the Hunter, McLaren and Barossa Valleys, Australia.

Syrah vines like very hot days with cool nights and can literally grow on rocky granite escarpments. Common Syrah descriptors include blackberry, dark chocolate, prominent tannins and acidity. Grilled and smoked red meat loves tannin and acidity. Where the climate is temperate, you can find hints of mint, eucalyptus, smoked meat and black pepper; and in warm regions, licorice, cloves, espresso, mocha and dark chocolate. Syrah from the Old World, France, Italy, Spain and Africa, in addition to more lively acidity, generally exhibits an earthy forest floor and herbaceous notes, while those from the United States , Australia and South America tend towards olive, pepper, clove, vanilla, mint. , licorice, chocolate, allspice, rosemary, cold cuts, bacon grease, tobacco, herbs and smoke. Almost all are aged in barrels. Syrahs are often the darkest of the red wines (indicating tannin). Lovers of blue cheese burgers, barbecue, venison or lamb roasted with garlic and herbs such as Herbes de Provence composed of lavender, fennel and thyme will appreciate the Syrah.

If you’re new to Syrah, head to Cali and nostalgic with Fess Parker Santa Barbara Syrah. Typically under $25, it has had 89 or more McD points since 2013. The 2016 and 2018 are the best, both 91 McD. Those who want to stick with FP can upgrade to the 2018 Rodney’s Vineyard Syrah, 93 McD for less than $58. Nose of black fruits, roasted lamb and black pepper, opens on the palate with grilled game lamb, aromatic herbs, roasted plum. Ends with coffee and dark chocolate.

The best value Aussie is Mollydooker (means left handed) The Boxer Shiraz McLaren Vale 2020, 92 McD under $30. Initially, their chosen names appealed to me: Velvet Glove, Carnival of Love, Blue-eyed Boy, Enchanted Path, Gigglepot, Sip It Forward and Two Left Feet. Their story: Sparky Marquis and Sarah Watts got married, started with a few dollars, nearly went bankrupt. Then turned down a big offer of corporate money so they could stay private and founded Mollydooker. Almost went bankrupt again, but both families went all-in. A local businessman bailed them out. Luckily, three months later, Wine Advocate chose The Boxer as the best value red in the world, Two Left Feet second, Maitre D’ fourth and The Violinist white the best value in the world. The wines sold out in 19 days and all debts were paid off. Since then, Katy has been barring the door. Huge success! At one time, they had the most 94+ point RP wines in the world. The foam on top for me is that both are left-handed, like me.

Let’s end with an affordable and good value for money product. M. Chapoutier, whom I recommend frequently, delivered Ferraton Père et Fils Saint-Joseph La Source 2019, 91 McD, which will set you back around $22, or 1.5L $35. Dark, almost black color with aromas of plum, blackberry, coffee, graphite, smoked meat and some barrel notes. Blackberry and plum along with barrel spice repeat on the palate; add black pepper, coffee, anise and a touch of smoke. Long and slightly tannic finish, indicating that it will be in the cellar. Their Ermitage Le Meal 2019 is spectacular, 95 McD, reminiscent of the 2015. The recent 2019 release needs at least two years in the cellar. Wait to buy. The reviews were excellent, may fall.

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