Que Syrah Syrah. We are becoming Syrah addicts, and we're OK with that. Recently, Wine Enthusiast wrote an interesting article about Syrah being the red skinned stepchild of California grapes. The writer argues that with so much attention and money showered on Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot, it is a tough decision for any person or company to decide to plant a vineyard with Syrah. The article stated that Syrah just can't command the price in the market that Cabernet and Pinot can, and therefore not that many vintners are growing and bottling it. Furthermore, those who are, are having trouble selling it. This is all bad news for the wineries, but it has been good news for consumers who are scouring their local wine shops or the internet for values. It is also interesting to note that although California Syrah can't command the same price as other California reds, it can produce some really wonderful wines, and these wines often walk a fine line somewhere between the subdued Syrahs of the Northern Rhone and the Aussie fruit bombs.
Today's subject is a real world example of the Wine Enthusiast story. The Hughes Family Vineyards Savannah Vineyard Syrah 2007 retails for $40, but I got it in a clearance sale for half that price. Deep purple in color, the wine brings aromas of cherry and blackberry fruit, black pepper, and the gamy, meaty quality that is so uniquely Syrah. In your mouth you get delicious cherry fruit with great acidity and very well integrated tannins. It is definitely a full bodied wine, but I'm pleased to say it doesn't have any of that heavy, syrupy feel that is so typical of Aussie Shiraz. The up front fruit, the acidity, and the tannins all slowly combine and linger on the palate in what is a fantastic finish. Overall, this is a very nice Syrah, and to me it embodies what California Syrah should be. Its a more easily approachable than Northern Rhone Syrahs (which I do love by the way) with a little more up front fruit, but it is much more than just a fruit explosion on the front end. There is some structure and balance that make this a really nice wine.
From a food standpoint, this would be a great wine to pair with grilled red meats - especially game. It would work beautifully with a rack of lamb or some grilled venison. It would also pair nicely with some good old fashioned BBQ. The Hughes Family Vineyards Savannah Vineyard Syrah is a decent value at $40 and a phenomenal value at $20. I'm kicking myself for not buying a lot more than the 4 bottles that I bought at that limited time only price.