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WBW 30 Summary: New World Syrah/Shiraz

WBW 30 Summary: New World Syrah/Shiraz

by Tim Elliott on February 12, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday LogoThe first time I hosted Wine Blogging Wednesday, just this past June, I filled in for another host at the last minute. And I returned this month due to the same reason so I must be in the WBW bullpen, to use an American baseball term. Whatever the reason, I was honored to be chosen to host once more.

My theme was also somewhat of a last minute choice, as the theme I reserved for my next time was more of a warm weather varietal and I feared a low turnout. And we only gave participants two weeks notice due to Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday this month. So Syrah, or Shiraz as it’s sometimes known, came to mind since it’s one of the varietals that I drink a lot of this time of year. For a twist, I thought it would be fun to see how the grape does outside of it’s Old World terrior in France, Spain or Italy.

I’m pleased to report that this theme was the most popular so far with a total of 50 entries covering 70 wines. Some were simple Aussie Shiraz you can find in the supermarket for under $10 USD right up to some cult wines that sell for about $80 a bottle. The more established New World homes for the grape were well represented with 27 Shiraz from Australia and 25 Syrah from California. But we also had entries from South Africa, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Washington State and Canada’s province of British Columbia. Clearly Syrah and Shriaz have traveled far from the Old World and it’s interesting to see the stylistic differences in the notes posted this month.

Now, the summary roughly in the order received:

Winecast reader and listener Lucas got the ball rolling a week ahead with his entry that I posted here. The wine selected was from the Bodegas Nieto Senetiner of Argentina, their Syrah from 2004. From Lucas’ tasting notes, it would seem this wine was more in the Old World, Rhone-style than the fruit forward New World style.

Another early post was from Mairead of the Fill Up On Bread blog. Four Shiraz from Australia were chronicled with the favorite being the Candlebark Hill Shiraz 2005 (or was it the Pepperjack Shiraz?). Sounds like a great wine tasting weekend to me.

Another Winecast listener, Bret, joined us for the first time with his review of Novi Family’s, Christiansen Vineyard, Syrah from 2004. For those unfamiliar with this producer you might have heard of their sister brand, Siduri, which focuses exclusively on Pinot Noir. Sounds like they also make a nice Syrah in the same vineyard designated fashion. Thanks for joining us, Bret, and don’t worry about your shameless plugs 😉

Edward from Wino sapien was next with the Thorn Clarke, “Shotfire”, Shiraz 2005 which sounds like a great Barossa Valley Shiraz and a nice value.

Another first time WBW participant, Barrld from Barreled, wrote about the Red Car California Syrah, Red Wind 2004 and finds it, “Quaffable. ” Thanks for joining us, Barrld!

Alex from huevos con vino was next with his review of the 2000 Paracombe, Adelaide Hills, Somerville, Shiraz. This wine from South Australia seems like a winner but is in short supply here in the US (and most likely even in Australia, as only 100 cases were made). Thanks for sacrificing your last bottle for the cause, Alex 😉

The Wine Commando was next with the first Chilean Syrah, a 2004 Montes Alpha, Alpalta Vineyard. After a nice background on the wines of Chile, Sanspotash found the wine a bit too tight and austere even with decanting. Maybe a bit of cellaring is needed here… but Jeff from Good Grape gives another view on this wine a bit further down.

Back across the pond in Belgium, Maarten from ChâteauBrys wrote about a bottle of Rosemount Estate, Diamond Label Shiraz 2004. The wine was just OK, so I’d suggest you check out the producer’s “Show Reserve” bottling for a better example of what Shiraz is all about. And thanks for the English post, Maarten!

Kelly from Canada’s Full Bodied blog was next with a very full bodied Syrah from British Columbia’s Kettle Valley Winery. The wine is a blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier from the 2004 vintage. Check out Kelly’s tasting notes and a picture of her, err, wine rack (sorry, I just couldn’t resist 🙂

Jens from the Cincinnati Wine Warehouse went back to Argentina for his entry, the 2001 Finca Flichman, Paisaje de Barrancas. This blend of 70% Syrah, 20% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon sounds delicious.

Per from the Norwegian wine blog Vinoteket wrote about a Porcupine Ridge, Syrah 2004 from Boekenhoutskloof, Coastal Region, South Africa. It would seem this wine is a bit out of balance with 14.5% alcohol and could use more fruit. For non-Norwegian speakers, Per also includes his notes in English. Takk, Per.

Down in Heidelberg Germany, Thomas from Winzerblog first ponders if a German Syrah would be considered “New World” then settles on a pair of Australian Shiraz. The first wine, a Cowra Estate, Kangaroo Ridge, Shiraz/Cabernet cost just 3 Euro. His second selection from Wakley Cellars, their 2005 Shiraz, was even less expensive. Check out Thomas’ notes to see if they were worth it. Thanks for posting in English, Thomas.

Barbara from winosandfoodies seemed to like the Voyager Estate Shiraz tasted for the event. Good to see you back for another WBW, Barbara!

Meanwhile, Snekse from the Gastronomic Fight Club is a bit more verbose with a write-up of the 2003 Thornhill Vineyards Syrah. The wine was watery, flabby and out of balance; too bad but nice coverage, Snekse.

Brendon, a.k.a. Cru Master from the cru blog, reported in from Cape Town about the Cederberg Shiraz 2004 from his home country of South Africa. He gives a very terroir-istic tasting note for this great tasting Shiraz.

Mary from the La tavola blog in New Zealand was next with the Warrenmang Estate Shiraz 1996. This Australian wine was summed up as, “Opulence deluxe.” Sounds like my kind of wine 😉

Over in Melbourne, Australia, Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once posted about a Majella Shiraz 1996. Both the wine and her accompanying photos are excellent.

Back here in The States, the Brooklynguy prepared a leg of lamb to pair with his 2004 Two Hands, Shiraz, “Lily’s Garden.” After some aeration the wine opened up and seemed to complement his cooking well.

Tim from Winepost was next up with a note on the St Hallet, Blackwell Shiraz 2002 from Australia. Looks like yet another winner from Oz.

Dr. Debs from Good Wine Under $20 offers an $18 wine this time, the 2005 Black Sheep Finds, “Hocus Pocus” Syrah. Despite it’s name and whimsical label the wine delivers a very good QPR according to the good doctor.

Up in Seattle, the Culinary Fool posted the first Washington State Syrah, a 2002 from McCrea. Both the wine and photo that accompanies her review are impressive. Thanks, Brenda!

Farley from Wine Outlook was next with a review of two Shiraz. The first was from South Africa, the 2004 Eventide Cellar Shiraz which she rated “pleasant”. The second was a sparkling Shiraz from Australia, a NV The Black Chook. The latter was described as tasting like, “…raspberry muffins and coffee.” Yum, brunch in a glass 😉

Roger from Box Wines thought outside the box this month, reviewing a Penfolds, “Bin 128”, Shiraz 2003. At $22 this wine delivered the goods. Thanks for splurging, Roger.

Fellow wine podcaster Bill Wilson of Wine for Newbies pulled a tasting note from the archives as his diet doesn’t allow for wine (heard of The Wine and Food Lover’s Diet, Bill?). The 2003 Coppola Shiraz posted was, “…thin and boring.” Bill will be posting some more interesting notes in April following his trip to Santa Barbara (be sure to check out Curtis Winery).

Walla Walla is a Washington appellation best known for Cabernet but Catie of Through The Walla Walla Grape Vine blog found a nice wine from Glen Fiona, their 2000 Walla Walla Syrah. Catie also provides a nice history of the grape in the region.

John from the Brim to the Dregs blog splurged on a $30 bottle of Luca Winery, Syrah, Altos de Mendoza, Argentina 2004. From his notes, it looks like a good call as this blend of 85% Syrah and 15% Malbec was described as, “…a serious bottle of syrah.”

Garry, our resident sommelier, spun a tale about three Shiraz from Australia he recently tasted in London. These standouts were Brokenwoods Graveyard Shiraz, Ballerina Canopy Shiraz and Berton Family, “Bonsai” Shiraz.

Jack and Joanne from Fork and Bottle, last month’s WBW hosts, chose the first California cult wine of the tasting, a 1997 Sine Qua Non, “Imposter McCoy”, Syrah. This wine could use some additional cellaring according to Jack’s tasting note. Unfortunately, I’ll have to live vicariously as Sine Qua Non’s list is among the most difficult to get on.

We welcome another WBW newbie, Sebastian of The Table, with a nice write-up of the 2004 Kenneth-Crawford, Syrah, Lafond Vineyard from the Santa Rita Hills AVA of California. After an hour in the decanter (nice picture!) the wine was tight but did open up with further aeration.

Sonadora, the Wannabe Wino, stayed in California with a 2004 Fritz, Alexander Valley Syrah. Seems she liked the Old World tasting expression of Syrah presented by this wine.

Beau from Basic Juice continued his “Where’s Wino” theme with a mystery tasting note asking if it’s Syrah or Shiraz? Just yesterday, he posted the wine as Hewitson’s 2004 Barossa Valley ‘Old Garden’ Mourvedre made from 154 year old vines. Nice one, Beau, even if it’s not what I asked for 😉

Lisa checked in from Bordeaux where New World Syrah/Shiraz is not easy to find in stores. Luckily, she was able to track down a bottle of Thomas Mitchell Shiraz 2003 in a wine shop in Angers for only 7.50 Euro. She posted her tasting note to the Vinorati blog where she called it, “…more than decent for a Wednesday evening dinner wine.” Thanks for joining us, Lisa!

Back down in the southern hemisphere, New Zealand blogger Jules from The Wine Wanker blog posted a nice piece on The Gimblett Gravels appellation before reviewing Unison, Syrah 2004. The wine sounded quite good but might be, “…an acquired taste…” I’ve certainly acquired it and hope many more will after this event.

David was next from Cooking Chat with a review of Winner’s Tank, Shiraz, Langhorne Creek 2005. A regular Rhone Syrah drinker, David was surprised by the BIG fruit flavors delivered in this Aussie Shiraz. He’ll be buying more of the wine for future tasting, so it sounds like it was satisfying.

Jerry from Winewaves wrote about Harlequin Cellars, “Jester’s Red” 2004 and posted another one of his great bottle shots (you’ll have to let me know how that is done, man). This wine is made from 87% Syrah, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Washington State. Sounds like a very nice bottle to try. Thanks, Jerry!

Catherine from Purple Liquid was next with a review of the 2004 La Feuille d’Or, Syrah, Clary Ranch Vineyard. Don’t look for this one in your local wine store as this wine was made in very small quantities at Crushpad in San Francisco. I just visited their place two weeks ago and was very impressed. Sounds like Catherine’s wine is also quite impressive.

Bryan at the Water into Wino blog went back to South America with a Chilean selection from Casa Lapostolle Winery. Their “Cuvee Alexandre” Syrah 2004 is a winner but not as complex as another Chilean Syrah Bryan recently tasted.

My podcast buddy, Alan Baker, The Cellar Rat came out of hiatus to review a Dussek Family Cellars, Syrah 2003 with his co-worker at Crushpad, Stuart Ake. Seems this Washington State Syrah didn’t meet up with Alan’s expectations (he was a bit under the weather with a cold, however). But Stuart really nails the wine with some of the best wine writing I’ve seen in a long time. You need to get a blog, Stuart, as anyone who works in Thelonious Monk and, “…animated 3-D fruit hammers” into a wine review needs to be read 😉

Dave at Avenue Vine was next with three reviews of California Syrah from Rosenblum Cellars, Hess Collection Winery and R.H. Phillips Vineyard. The Rosenblum sounds like the winner here. Thanks, Dave!

Amy at The Second Glass blog wrote about Elderton’s 2001 Barossa Valley Shiraz and had the best quote of the event with, “Oh My God! Its a blueberry Roofy!” I’ll have to pick up a bottle and see what’s there, because whatever it is it sounds good 😉

Andrew from Spittoon, the chap who first suggested I participate in WBW, checked in with the Di Martino Legado, Syrah, Choapa Valley, Chile 2005. He judged this one a “big lad” with a closed nose but otherwise an average Syrah with food.

I was next to post nine New World Syrah tasted from the barrel with winemaker Pax Mahle. Of all the excellent wines tasted, I have to single out the very fine Pax, Alder Springs, “The Terraces�, Syrah from both 2004 and 2005 as the pinnacle of California Syrah. At $70 a bottle or so they are not cheap but they are an unforgettable wine experience.

El Jefe, the proprietor of Twisted Oak Winery, was good enough to heed my suggestion he post one of this Syrah’s for this tasting. The 2004 Tanner Vineyard Syrah from Calaveras County sounds like a nice match for Jefe’s meatloaf and it will be available through WineQ soon.

Marcus from Doktor Weingolb tasted two Shiraz and a Grenache/Syrah blend. The Joseph Phelps “Vin du Mistral” Red Pastiche 2005 wasn’t consistent with the Syrah theme, as it is mostly Grenache, but it sounds like a nice wine. Of his two qualified selections, Errazuriz Estate, Shiraz, Valle de Rapel, Chile 2005 and Jacob’s Creek, Shiraz/Cabernet, South Eastern Australia 2004, it looks like the Chilean Shiraz was a great value and the bottle from Oz was just a simple quaffer.

Cartographer Sean joined our tasting with one of the most interesting mash-ups I’ve yet seen. Combining his love for wine and cartography, Sean created a Google Earth presentation that starts in France’s Rhone Valley and then goes to the vineyards in Washington State that made his 2003 L’Ecole Nº 41, Columbia Valley, Syrah. The wine sounds great and looking at the vineyards in Google Earth is equally enjoyable. Very cool and original, Sean!

Pam and Joe turned in the only podcast of WBW 30 at A Guy, A Girl and A Bottle. It’s good to see them back on the air after a hiatus but I don’t think they will be drinking any more 2005 Little Penguin Shiraz after listening to their review.

Alder from Vinogrpahy was next with a 2002 Astrale e Terra, Syrah, Atlas Peak. As usual, his review is very thorough and informative but he he didn’t mention WBW for some reason. This Napa Syrah sounds delicious and a nice value at $25.

My sometimes collaborator Jeff from Good Grape posted about the Montes Alpha, Syrah 2004 from the Colchagua Valley’s Apalta Vineyard in Chile. Yes, that’s the same wine The Wine Commando wrote about but Jeff seemed to like this one a lot more calling it, “…an extreme value and a delightful wine.”

WBW founder Lenn Thompson took a break from diaper changing duties and joined us on Wine Blogging Friday this month with some thoughts about Torbreck 2005 Woodcutter’s Shiraz from Australia. It didn’t seem like this one was Lenn’s style but a decent bottle from the Parker score. It’s also good to see Lenn taste something made outside of New York every now and then 😉

And finally, The Cork Dork posted the final entry, a Thomas Fogarty, Estate Grown Syrah 2003 from Fat Buck Ridge Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Sounds like this Syrah was worth the wait. Thanks for making it an even 50, CD!

WBW 30 by the numbers:

50 entries
70 wines blogged
38 Syrah
30 Shiraz
1 Grenache/Syrah
1 Mourvedre

By appellation:
3 Argentina
27 Australia
25 California
1 Canada
5 Chile
1 New Zealand
3 South Africa
5 Washington State

Thanks once more to Lenn for his idea, leadership and trust to let me host again so soon. I’ll see you in March for WBW 31.

Sorry this is a couple days later than I planned but between the fire and so many great entries, it took quite a bit of time to sort out. If I somehow missed your post, please email me and I’ll update this post. Many thanks to all who participated!

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  • Excellent write-up! And I was happy to drink that Somerville Shiraz for this month’s WBW event…seemed like a good excuse to me. *)

  • wow – a lot to follow up on. Is ‘chap’ a proper American word or you skanking my Englishness? 🙂

  • Tim


    I lived in London for a couple years so I picked up “chap” and “pedantic” along the way. It is not an accepted American word but I wasn’t skanking your Englishness 😉

  • Wow, nice idea Tim and very prompt roundup–especially given your plumbing problems, documented on this site! Sorry my schedule last week didn’t let me “virtually” taste some syrah with you and the 49 others. Cheers,

  • Heroic! Thanks, Tim, for doing this instead of slinking into a corner with a well deserved bottle of wine. All this and all-knowing, all-seeing powers, too? Carnac would be proud.

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  • Well done Tim!

  • Dan

    I’m surprised none of my recent favorites seem to have made the list. Because of a Feb 3 tasting I went to, I’ve experienced many excellent syrahs lately. My favorite of them all is the 2003 gliAngeli Proprietary Red Wine produced and bottled by Stolpman Vineyards, Santa Ynez Valley, Lompoc, California. It’s 95% Syrah and 5% Malbec. Intense, beautiful bouquet and flavors of briary, earthy, blue fruit and dusty milk chocolate. Perfect by itself or with a mozzarella, mushroom tart with dried rosemary leaves, a thick steak or lentil and kielbasa soup.

  • Thank you kindly tim, it seems to have a been a very succesfull WBW – and what a pleasure to be involved in this for the first time!

    I’m really looking forward to the next one!

  • Very impressive Tim – excellent write-up, 50(!) entries, and a plumbing fire. Congrats and thanks for making the extra effort. No wonder you’re the WBW pinch hitter. 🙂

  • Just a quick note for the record: the South Beach Diet doesn’t allow wine for only the first two weeks. I’m past that now and am happy to be “off the wagon” again. 🙂

    Great writeup, Tim!

  • Heh. That’s okay, we put our cleavage out there, we can’t complain if it gets noticed 🙂 Though it’s Annie’s, not mine this time.

    Great summary, very interesting reading!

  • Tim

    Thanks, Kelly, for participating and thank Annie for her contribution, as well 😉

  • As always, a great wrap up! I look forward to trying some new wines.

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  • All of the Kenneth Crawford wines are excellent! It’s a special treat to experience them.

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