Raise Your Hat to Syrah!Praise Too The Shiraz.
Syrah is one the best known grapes in the world. The origins of this dark-skinned red have been widely debated but, according to Wine-Searcher.com, its modern viticultural home is unquestionably the northern Rhone Valley of eastern France. In Australia, Syrah is overwhelmingly (but not exclusively) known as Shiraz, and is regarded as the country's national grape.
There is a wee chapel dedicated to St Christopher on the top of Hermitage in the Rhone. But was it St Patrick who started Syrah’s rise to world fame? In Grapes and Wine (published 2015), the story that the Irish saint planted the first wines on the famous cnoc as he made his way to the island monastery of Lérins is raised.
Another famous visitor to the area was Alexandre Dumas. “In 1834, Alexandre Dumas travelled to the South of France along with his friend Jadin, arriving one evening at Tain-l’Hermitage. ‘On entering the hotel, I took Jadin over to the window and invited him to raise his hat to the hill that towered over the town. This Jadin did, and when I told him that these were the slopes of the Hermitage, he took it upon himself to raise his hat a second time.’ “ The above quote is from About Our Wines (a Cotes du Rhone booklet).
Wayne Thomas Shiraz 2004 (McLaren Vale), 14.5%, €26.80 Karwig Wines
Twelve years old but still displaying a great depth of colour, dark with only a slight lightening at the rim; legs slow to slide down. Aromas of berries and spice. Superb rich fruit and spice on the palate too, oak is well integrated and a long finish. Robust and balanced or, as his son said, Big and ballsy! This is more or less perfect and Very Highly Recommended.
Get on down to Karwig’s, or just go online, while they still have some of it. Sadly, Wayne Thomas died in 2007 and though his son is a winemaker he operates not in the McLaren but in the Hunter Valley.
Wayne “Thommo” Thomas was quite a character and you may read a tribute to him here.
Clairmont Classique rouge Crozes-Hermitage 2008, 13%, €22.50 Karwig Wines
This one hundred per cent Syrah (from vines over 30 years old) has a purple colour, slightly less so towards the rim; legs slow to clear. Red fruits are prominent in the aromas. Again, good fruit, some spice too on the palate, smooth with fine tannins, excellent balance and long finalé. Somewhat more restrained than the Thomas and also Very Highly Recommended.
The producers indicate that this red Crozes-Hermitage will pair well with grilled lamb, cold meat or roast turkey. Aged, it will be a great match to any kind of stew.
Much larger than the prestigious Hermitage appellation which it surrounds, Crozes-Hermitage is also much more prolific.
Morambro Creek Shiraz 2008 (Padthaway, Australia), 14.5%, €23.40 Karwig Wines
The Bryson family “employ sustainable environmentally friendly viticulture” and “meticulous traditional winemaking”. It all adds up to gems like this!
It is purple in colour, a little less so at the rim, legs slow to clear. Ripe fruits and more in the aromas, blackcurrant for sure. Expansive on the palate, full of fruit and spice, yet great harmony there too, soft and balanced with a hint of sweetness, the wood is well integrated and you have a long and pleasant finish. Another excellent Shiraz and Very Highly Recommended.