Saturday, October 28, 2006

AstroVino #5: Syrah and Shiraz

This week was the first of a two week tour of France's Rhône River Valley. Red wines of the Rhône Valley are principally made from the Syrah wine grape. I personally was not captivated by any of the wines we tried, but most of them did improve as the night went on.

We had two French Syrahs: a 2003 Côtes-du-Rhône, E. Guigal, (S. Rhône, France) and a 2001 Crozes Hermitage, Les Jalets, Paul Jaboulet Aîné. Côtes-du-Rhône is supposed to be a "safe" French red wine, but I found it to be somewhat bland and uninteresting. The Hermitage was brown, it finished quickly (i.e., left no aftertaste), but it was better later in the evening than at the start.

The most memorable wine we tried was from South Africa, and had nothing to do with the taste, though apparently it was one of the top 100 wines on some wine list sometime recently. No no, it's memorable because of the name: Goats do Roam in Villages (2004), from Fairview Estate in Paarl, South Africa. It was quite purple and rather dry, but but Goats! The same winery also offers Bored Doe, Goat Door, and The Goatfather. Because bad puns and good wine belong together.

We had two Californian Syrahs as well: a 2004 Cline Cool Climate Syrah, from the Sonoma Coast and a 2004 Qupé Central Coast Syrah. These are supposed to be incredibly fruity "fruit bombs," but I was having to fend off the free association of the individual on my right who was insisiting that the Qupé had an undertone of play dough, so the fruitiness didn't really come through for me.

Now, just to be confusing, Syrah is known as Shiraz in Australia. The Syrah grape is native to France, but the French didn't know this until 1998, as the Syrah wine was introduced by a former crusader Guy De'Sterimberg, who claimed that he had found this fantastic exotic wine grape in Shiraz, Persia, when in fact he had found it in his backyard. But, hey, Australia can still get away with sounding exotic, so Shiraz it is. The one we tried was a 2002 Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz.

Speaking of goats, all of these wines kind of began to taste like one another after a while. This was partially, I think, because we didn't have very good cheese this week: if you're going to have goat cheese, have goat cheese, not the processed stuff from a canister. Really.

1 comment:

Vincent said...

Here in New Mexico we don't really get a great variety of wines. Sometimes I purchase inexpensive wines at the Albuquerque Cost Plus. Among their not-so-large South African selection I've tried a Goats do Roam white (can't recall the varietal/blend) and an Indaba chenin blanc. Neither was spectacular; the chenin blanc was pretty flat compared to a Loire valley equivalent. On the other hand, neither was particularly bad either, especially for an $8 bottle of wine. I suppose the Goats do Roam in Villages red you had is of higher quality than the mass-market stuff that's more common around here.