English: Clusters of Shiraz, or Syrah grapes. Note the deep color of the berries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Once again the Wine powers that be brought me two wines to enjoy this week. One from Australia [Jacob’s Creek] the other from our own Washington State [Genesis]. Interestingly both wines are from the same vintage, are marketed at different price points and are from different continents; therefore the Syrah vs. Shiraz which is actually the same varietal. First off let’s start with a little background;
Syrah is the primary (sometimes sole) grape variety used to make the famous red Rhône wines of Côte Rotie and Hermitage and also the component that gives backbone and structure to most Rhône blends, including Chateauneuf du Pape. Although slow to cross the threshold of popular acceptance, syrah became one of California’s most planted varieties around the cusp of the millennial transition. In 1984, there were less than 100 acres, but by 2010, over 19,000 vineyard acres in the state were growing syrah.
Genesis 2009 Syrah – Columbia Valley
Price range: $12-20.00
The Hogue family planted its first vineyard over 25 years ago and soon realized that Washington’s climate and soils had the potential to nurture world-class wines. The Hogue Cellars’ mission has always been to make wines that fulfill the promise of the land, using superior viticulture and winemaking techniques. Today, the family’s original vision is celebrated in Genesis wines, which are crafted with the highest quality fruit from acclaimed vineyards throughout Columbia Valley.
Washington Syrah exhibits dark, juicy fruit character, brilliant color, a complex varietal gaminess and a relatively low tannin level.
I luckily found this wine in our Winn-Dixie grocery store clearance rack; marked down from $16.00 to $7.99. Priced perfectly for experimenting with a varietal I have not often had on its own. That, plus the fact that I enjoy discovering Washington State wines.
My tasting notes: Beautiful purple hue as it was decanted with black ripe fruit, violet, plum and casis on the nose. Sleek slow legs draped themselves on my tasting chalice. On the palate I noted the addition of cedar, tobacco, cocoa, vanilla and blackberry jam followed by a soft finish. I had expected a fruit forward jammy tasting wine but this one in particular seemed overwhelmed by its time in wood. Decanting and breathing never subsided the effect. Because of this I would describe this wine as too woody for me. Unfortunately the fruitiness of the varietal got lost in the process.
“Well made and muscular, this compact effort brings black fruit, black olive, black licorice and espresso flavors together in a balanced and strikingly complex Syrah. The blend includes small amounts of Cabernet, Lemberger, Sangiovese and Merlot – unusual but it works. Editors’ Choice” 90 Points Wine Enthusiast
Jacob’s Creek 2009 Shiraz
Price range; $5.99-$8.99
Lifted aroma of fresh Raspberry and Black Cherry, underpinned with a softly spiced background. Refined, mouth filling berry fruit flavours are supported with a soft acidity, leading to a long and flavoursome finish to the wine.
A cool and dry winter preceded the 2009 growing season. Dry conditions prevailed into spring and early summer requiring the implementation of supplementary irrigation to maintain healthy and protective grapevine canopies. Early February temperatures were slightly cooler than average in most regions, ideal for the gradual accumulation of essential grape sugars and flavours. Harvesting of Shiraz occurred in earlier than usual,
which was advantageous as March saw a record breaking heat wave strike most of South Eastern Australia.
My Tasting notes:
On the nose; jammy, herbaceous [grass, bell pepper], fruity [ripe blackberry, fig, currant, raisin], eucalyptus, dried tobacco, licorice, oak and leather as it opened. On the palate; powerful yet tight, not as fruity as I expected, needing to open but not really doing so as time passed. I noted some softening of the tannins at about 10 minutes but no difference at 30 minutes.
In conclusion I would have to say the Jacob’s Creek is a smoother, easier wine to drink. It offers a greater variety of tasting points for the drinker to enjoy compared to the Genesis where it is difficult to get beyond the strong wood scent and taste. The fact that I paid $5.99 for the Jacob’s Creek is also a great selling point. I look forward to comparing it to others in the same price range [such as Yellowtail] and also look forward to trying Syrah’s from other areas of the world. Que Syrah, Shiraz! ¡SALUD!
|FRUIT: black currant, blackberry
||TERROIR: musk, civet, truffle, earth
||OAK (light): vanilla, coconut, sweet wood
|SPICE: black pepper, licorice, clove, thyme, bay leaf
||OAK (heavy): oak, smoke, toast, tar
|HERBAL: sandalwood, cedar
||BOTTLE AGE: cedar, cigar box, earth, leather