This leaves the average consumer scratching his or her head when they see a bottle labeled Syrah. What’s even more difficult is the variety of styles from around the globe. Would you pair the same dish with a Côte-Rôtie as you would with an Aussie Shiraz? Absolutely not.
It’s with this in mind that I began to explore the different expressions of Syrah, pairing each style with a dish to match.
The Northern Rhône gives of an expression of Syrah that tastes of the earth and all the wonderful fruits and flora that it provides us. These are serious, brooding wines for big, hearty meals, yet their deep and dark aromas are offset by elegance and finesse on the palate. A good Crozes-Hermitage is a moving experience.
When deciding on a pairing, I realized that I needed something texturally pleasing and rich, something that needed the focus of the Crozes-Hermitage to shine, yet would compliment its earthy aromas. That’s when I thought of Chicken Marsala with Pancetta & Cream.
2007 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert - The nose showed cherries in fresh turned soil, with notes of undergrowth, candle wax, minerals and floral stems. On the palate it was lean, showing tight blackberry fruit, herbs and hints of stone. The finish was long with red fruits clinging on the mid-palate. This wine closed in on itself and took six hours, open in bottle, to really show its virtues.
These are big, rich, aggressive wines and in my opinion, you either love them or hate them. The fact is, you just can’t ignore the quality in the glass and there’s a lot of value to be found in Australia. This bottle is a perfect example. Its $16 tariff is well worth it and it is a serious crowd pleaser.
Pairing foods with full-throttle wines can be very difficult, but Bourbon BBQ Baby Back Ribs can hold their own against the big, rich nose of an Australian Shiraz. Though a big wine can easily overpower the sweet, succulent rib meat, in the case of the Layer Cake Shiraz, the soft and juicy palate performance is perfect for slow roasted pork.
2010 Pure Love Wines Shiraz Layer Cake - The nose showed blackberry jam on toast, vanilla, sweet spices and a hint of pine. On the palate, it was soft with vibrant acidity, ripe wild berries, cola and pepper assaulting the senses, which turned to sour blackberry on the finish.
When I think of Syrah, my first thoughts are of the Northern Rhône, then Australia and finally the United States. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this fine example of Syrah from Israel. If you’re looking for something different that will expand your horizons and is sure to please, this wine is for you.
The Clos de Gat Syrah paired beautifully with Spanish-Style Lamb Stew with Roasted Red Peppers. The Mediterranean flavors of this lamb stew, with its red peppers, Kalamata olives and capers went along perfectly with the Clos de Gat. Its juicy and spicy personality stood tall next to the stew’s earthy, bold flavors. Use a cup of your Syrah pairing for the wine addition in this recipe and you’ll have a match made in heaven.
2008 Clos de Gat Har’El Syrah Judean Hills – The nose showed vibrant raspberry with dark chocolate, clove and a hint of undergrowth. A slight acetone note added depth on the nose. On the palate, I found mixed berries, pepper, cocoa powder and sweet spice on a balanced and juicy frame. The finish was long yet fresh with spicy red fruits.
Argentina seems capable of succeeding with almost any grape varietal as long as the winemaker lets the natural expression of the varietal shine through. In the case of the Luigi Bosca Syrah Reserva, it walks a tight rope between new oak and Syrah fruit. In the end, the result is quite enjoyable.
When tasting this wine, I immediately thought of steak. However you prepare it and whatever cut you prefer is up to you, but why not try something that you might be eating in Argentina. I paired this with Argentine Grilled Tri-Tip.
2007 Luigi Bosca Reserva Syrah – The nose was massive and rich with blackberry jam, vanilla, mocha and spicy cookie. On the palate, it was velvety smooth, showing black fruit, pepper and inner floral notes. The finish was clean with lingering spiced cherry and herbs.
The cooler growing areas of California have been turning out some amazing Syrah over the years. You can go crazy, and broke, trying to taste them all. However, not only is this wine an excellent expression of Syrah, it’s also one of the best values I’ve tasted this year. It is simply stunning on the nose with fruit, florals and earth, and is fresh and juicy on the palate.
When tasting this wine, I immediately thought of roast duck, a great pairing for a warm family meal. If you want to spice things up a bit, this recipe of Duck with Dried Cherries and Rosemary is a perfect pairing. Try to find dried “unsweetened” cherries and soak them in a bath of warmed Syrah before using them in the recipe.
2009 Cycles Gladiator California Syrah – The nose was very expressive with sour berries, which turned riper with time in the glass. Floral notes with earth, pepper and clove followed. On the palate, I found high-pitched raspberry with sweet spice and juicy throughout. The finish was pleasant and graceful. This was one of the best QPR wines I’ve tasted in a long time.
Want to Learn More?
Be sure and check out even more great pairing ideas in 5 Top Pairings for Chardonnay!