Its time for me to start admitting to myself that I really enjoy Syrah. It's a grape that can make some really wonderful wines when grown in the right terroir by a winemaker who is on their game. The parts of the world that I've found that are making great Syrah are not all that plentiful, but there are a few. The Northern Rhone in France is certainly leading the pack, but Ive also seen some nice Syrah's from Washington, California (results are mixed here but there are some good ones), and even Spain and South America.
You'll notice that I don't have Australia on my list, which is the second largest producer of Syrah (or Shiraz as they call it) in the world after France. Although they make a lot of Syrah/Shiraz, there isn't too much of it that I've found to be great. In fact, I find most of their Shiraz to be over extracted, one dimensional, and frankly pretty boring and uninspiring. Now my point here isn't to pick on my mates Down Under or inspire people to throw a boomerang at the nearest kangaroo, but I do want people to think about Syrah and not just Shiraz. In the US, wine retailers sell a whole lot more Shiraz than we do Syrah, and many consumers only know Shiraz in the Aussie style. If you fall into this group, give a Syrah from Washington or Argentina a try, and you might find a very different wine than the Shiraz you know. Better yet, try something from the Northern Rhone like the Domaine des Entrefaux Crozes Hermitage 2009.
In your glass, the Domaine des Entrefaux Crozes Hermitage 2009 is a dark purple-red in color. The nose brings cassis and plum with some spice and black pepper. On the palate you get more of the plum and berry fruit, but the fruit is pretty subdued and complemented by some spice. The wine has a very healthy dose of acidity and mild to medium tannins that linger quietly on the very long finish.
Overall, this is a very nice bottle that can be found for just under $20. It is extremely well balanced and more old world in style, and it will pair nicely with a wide variety of meals. So go out and give a Syrah a try, and if you're already a fan of Syrah as opposed to Shiraz, I think you will probably enjoy this one.