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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday Tasting: A Case of Shiraz and Syrah

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we taste a dozen Syrah and Shiraz wines.

Syrah or Shiraz is a bit of a mystery to some wine drinkers. After all, it is the same grape, but produces wines that go by two names. There is another grape called Petite Sirah, that is a cousin, but not the same grape -- which adds to the mystery.

Where the wine comes from helps determine what the wine is called. If it is from France, it is syrah. Winemakers in South America and the rest of Europe will also use syrah on the label. If it is from Australia, you are drinking shiraz, mate. Shiraz is the most popular grape for winemaking in Australia and vineyards in South Africa and New Zealand are likely to use the shiraz name on their labels, too. In California, you could be drinking either – it depends on the winery. Most of the rest of the U.S. appears happy to side with the French and use syrah.

I recently tasted these wines for my Beyond Beer column appearing in the current edition of All About Beer magazine.

Ty Caton 2004 Field Blend: A mix of petite sirah, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and malbec grapes, this is an affordable luxury with great meritage blended quality that hits all of the Sonoma red flavor characteristics of a more expensive wine.

Clos Du Bois 2005 North Coast Shiraz: This California red has an inviting nose. The coating blackberry flavor has a light spice finish.

D’Arenberg 2002 Vintage Fortified Shiraz: A thick and syrupy Port-style wine, this dessert treat is from South Australia. Very deep purple color, good berry character and a touch of cocoa flavor.

Fetzer Valley Oaks 2005 Shiraz: There is a touch of oak and spice throughout this wine. Plum skins and ripe berries mingle to create an inviting flavor.

Hall 2005 Darwin: This Napa Valley wine is a symphony of rich flavors. A blend of 80 percent syrah grapes with 20 percent cabernet sauvignon. Lush and smooth, very intense fruit that lingers. Starts with a hint of fig and finishes with a wisp of chocolate. Fire up the grill and cook a thick steak.

Terry Hoage Vineyards 2005 The Hedge Syrah: A former Georgia Bulldog football star, Terry Hoage makes wine in Paso Robles, Calif. This deep red 100 percent Syrah wine is rich and round. Plenty of berries, black cherries with a touch of cigar-like tannins.

Jaboulet 2006 Parallele 45: This Cotes du Rhone red has a nice amount of tannins and some peppery spice. Nice light berry nose.

Loxton 2004 Sonoma Syrah: This wine spends 20 months on oak and produces a bold, fruit forward red that delivers a long pleasant flavor profile.

Virgin Vines 2006 Shiraz: This California wine is ruby red with a cassis nose and dried berry flavor that finishes with just a hint of spice.

Wakefield 2005 Promised Land: This Australian wine is 60 percent shiraz and 40 percent cabernet sauvignon. Ripe blackberry nose, straightforward fruit flavor that is rounded out with a hint of cinnamon, spice and oak.

Wyndham Bin 555 Shiraz: This southeast Australian wine is rich and smooth with hints of plum, blueberry jam and a touch of finishing spice.

Wyndham Shaw Reserve 2004 Shiraz: Rich, dry red. There is a moderate amount of oak throughout that balances a solid level of rich, tart fruit.

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