Wine of the Week / Wineries

Chris’ Wine Pick of the Week

Ah, Syrah.  One of the world’s great red wines – deeply colored, full-bodied, powerfully-flavored, food-friendly, and typically less tannic than the ever popular Cabernet Sauvignon.  Known in Australia as “Shiraz,” this Rhone Valley-style varietal first came to California in the 1970s and has thrived ever since.  Not surprisingly, it’s one of the main grapes grown in the Temecula Valley . It seems as though every local winery has their own Syrah varietal wine, or at the very least, uses it for blending.  Depending on the terroir, typical notes one may experience when enjoying a well-made Syrah can range from dark berries (especially blackberry and black cherry), mocha, black pepper, and spice to licorice, prunes, violets, and leather.  It’s a complex and gorgeous grape.

Miramonte Winery is known for their Syrahs.  Currently, their tasting menu includes both their 2005 Syrah and their outstanding 2005 Estate Syrah, which is a Gold Medal award winner at the LA County Fair and Silver Medal award winner at the Pacific Rim Wine Competition.  Both are rich, spicy, and full of berries.  But both may have to take a backseat to winemaker Reinhard Schlassa’s latest – the 2006 Syrah.  It’s my Wine Pick of the Week.

Introduced to their tasting menu just 2 weeks ago (it was their July Wine Club release), this latest Syrah is lighter than both 2005 vintages. It is not as full-bodied, but has tons of flavor.  I pick up a good deal of blackberry, a little blackcurrant, perhaps some cinnamon, and a lot of spice in the finish.  It’s a complex wine, and there are definitely great fruit flavors, but it’s not jammy.  Think smooth & spicy.

Since it is lighter than many Temecula Syrahs, I would tend to pair it with appetizer dishes.  I think it’s a perfect hors d’oeuvres red wine, one that you (and all of your guests) will love while enjoying tapas, various artisan cheeses (Gouda, Goat, Hirtenkase), and perhaps lamb chops.  (Check out the Temecula Valley Cheese Company for more great cheese ideas.)

Miramonte is going through a bit of renovation at the moment, as they’re expanding their parking lot.  But don’t let that prevent you from stopping by and tasting their fantastic 2006 Syrah.  Mention Taste of Temecula and receive 20% off this new varietal through next Thursday, July 29th.

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