This month, we take a deep dive into California Syrah, a category that is all but ignored by consumers, much to the bewilderment of the wine trade. In fact, there is even a joke told in the California trade about Syrah-based wines:
What is the difference between a case of Syrah and a case of pneumonia?
You can take antibiotics to get rid of a case of pneumonia.
While it is a little funny to us insiders, I cannot tell you how many times I have tasted a good example of California Syrah, only to tell the salesman that I don’t buy them because customers don’t want them. Then we both exchange the, “yeah, I get it” look and move on (keep in mind that in the Orlando store, we have 12 different Loire Cabernet Francs, so we are willing to fight the good fight). Yet, when wine professionals get together there is often a lot of Syrah consumed because the variety offers so much in terms of aromatic complexity, site specificity and food pairing ability. By the way, Riesling is the same way for white wine. Trade people adore it, but American consumers avoid it like the plague despite our desperate pleas. But this is the New World Red club, so I digress….
The last pure California Syrah that I selected for this club was in November 2015, an example from Midnight Cellars in Paso Robles. That wine was an example of the deep, rich side of the variety that is produced from warm growing sites to appeal to Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers. The wines for this month show an entirely different side of the variety, from a cooler vineyard that produces wines that are more elegant and aromatic, with higher acidity. This makes the selection the ideal red for an upcoming meal with turkey as the centerpiece. For that matter, if you are part of the growing, “why do we have to eat turkey on Thanksgiving?” crowd, the selections this month also work great with salmon, prime rib or ham, as long as the glaze is not too sweet. It is the versatility of Syrah that should make it so appealing.Download Full Club Write-up