So with a level playing field, let the game begin.
For starters, Syrah is a beautiful grape that seems to have gotten a lot of love from the critics in recent years, yet that love isn’t shared with the consumers. Used to be, for me Aussie Shiraz (the more southernly to its French counterpart), should much better at any price point, with the upper tier Syrahs from California, France and anywhere else just served to collect excessive amounts of dust. Hell, even the inexpensive domestic Syrahs do not do very well; it’s one mystery I don’t think I will ever solve.
That being said, let me introduce you to our first wine for the challenge: the Domaine PhillippeFaury St. Jospeh 2006. I have always loved a good St. Joseph. A relatively young appellation by most standards (established in 1956), this small area has always produced some stunning reds (100% Syrah of course). However, expansion in the region has caused those wines to be hidden amongst a bevy of mediocre ones. Kermit Lynch, one of the world’s top importers, always saves the day, and brings to the states the Faury, which is one Syrah you should definitely seek out.
The aromas leaping up from the glass suggest a bit of anise, some violets and lilacs, and even a touch of new leather. The color is intense purple, and its body voluptuous. There are just layer upon layer of plum, blackberry, blueberry, acai and black raspberry notes, sassafras, black pepper, roasted game, rhubarb, and even something of a brown sugar/butter reduction. Crazy. There is certainly a noticeable presence of earth, with the fruit flavors coming off as freshly-picked.
The second participant in this contest is the Planeta Syrah 2005. This winery has always impressed me, in that they have a very American approach to wine, yet still touting their local varietals above their more international counterparts. Known for their penchant for native grape, Nero d’Avola, the winemakers at Planeta were quick to show off Sicily’s versatility in growing grapes such as Chardonnay, Merlot and the aforementioned Syrah.
I’ve got to thank Lenn of Wine Blogging Wednesday and Remy from The Wine Case for this very cool exploration. It certainly gets one to think outside of the box.