When the weather is nice, what do I want to do? Go wine browsing. When the weather is terrible, what do I want to do? Go wine browsing. Well. Today was officially the most beautiful spring day we’ve had in Atlanta so far this year. I use the term “spring” lightly, because the high was 87 degrees! In a pathetic attempt to enjoy the nice weather, I sweltered in my backyard while reading for a couple of hours. Not my thing. I then decided to venture out into the neighborhood and pay a visit to pH Wine Merchant, newly opened and oh-so-conveniently located approximately 150 yards from my house.
pH Wine Merchant was fantastic. Maggie and Anthony were incredibly helpful, and to further entice buyers, pH pours delicious wines every Saturday afternoon from 2 – 4. I got so excited by a little find that I just had to do a quick entry on Syrah. Syrah is, without a doubt, my favorite grape juice to drink right now. I can’t get enough of it. In fact, I am drinking Syrah while I write this very sentence. Anyway, pH Wine Merchant was offering the 2008 Arnot Roberts North Coast Syrah. Such a fantastic producer, but I have only sampled their wines at Cellar 13 when helping out there on Saturdays because normally, their price point is out of my range. But TODAY, at pH Wine Merchant, I picked up an Arnot Roberts Syrah, with fruit sourced from the North Coast, for $24.99. Yes, this is still a bit expensive, but I have a feeling it will be totally worth it.
What do I love about Syrah? It has such a fantastic personality – refined, but with a little lip. On the surface, it is rustic and masculine, and at its best, becomes a thought-provoking, complex grape. Syrah can drink very differently based on the wine-producing region. Northern Rhone Syrah is often referred to as a “smelly” wine, with traces of barnyard animals and leather. Australian Shiraz, on the other hand, with extremely warm growing temperatures, is often made in a style that is fruit-forward, chocolaty and rich (side note – Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape, but Australians and South Africans often choose to use a different naming convention). Washington State and California Syrah can strike a perfect balance between these two extremes, but retain the spice aromas that make Syrah so interesting to drink.
For whatever reason, Syrah sales have slowed lately. An abomination, in my humble opinion! The next time you’re doing your own wine browsing, I ask you to pass over your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot selection and give Syrah a shot. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Here are some regions to look for:
Washington State – Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley
California – Central Coast and North Coast
Rhone Valley, France – Cote Rotie, Hermitage, St. Joseph
Australia – Barossa Valley and Hunter Valley
I have a fair amount of Syrah around the house right now. The Atlanta Wine Group is getting together for a Syrah tasting at my house next Monday, and we plan to have each of these different regions represented. Check back soon for tasting notes, firsthand information on what differentiates each region and photos from the evening!