Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wine grape: A case of Shiraz/Syrah for Christmas

Picture: From Wall Street Journal -- Hector Sanchez for The Wall Street Journal

Syrah/Shiraz is a dark-skinned grape grown all around the world that tends to produce a powerfully flavored, full-bodied wine, with a peppery and sometimes lusty taste.

Syrah has a long tradition in the Rhone region in the South of France. In Australia, it became popular under the name Shiraz, where it now has long been established as the most grown red grape variety. Some sources suggest that the grape variety originates in the city of Shiraz in Iran, from where it was brought to France and there named Syrah. In the US, it is mostly called Syrah, but should not be confused with Petite Syrah, which is a different grape variety.

The wines that made Syrah famous were those from Hermitage in the northern Rhone valley, in the 18th and 19th century. When President Jefferson was Ambassador in Paris, he visited Hermitage. Syrah arrived in Australia in the early 19th century and was first planted in Hunter Valley. By the end of the century, Syrah was fully established as one of Australia’s grape varieties. Penfolds Grange is the most famous Shiraz from Australia, although it is not 100 percent Shiraz, but a blend. In the last few decades, Shiraz/ Syrah has enjoyed increased popularity, both in the Old and New World and recently broke into the top 10 of varieties planted worldwide.

Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher from the Wall Street Journal suggest a mixed case of Syrah/Shiraz as a Christmas gift for a wine lover and make recommendations on what to put into the box. It is an interesting Tour d’Horizont of what the wine market in the US has to offer in terms of Syrah/Shiraz from around the globe. They also include an Australian Shiraz sparkler in their recommendations, which I used to enjoyed when I visited my daughter Cornelia in Brisbane/Australia. Australia produces excellent Shiraz based sparklers and they are very popular down under.

So, here is an idea for a tour of the world entirely based on the Syrah/Shiraz grape. This can cost anywhere from about $150 up if you get 12 bottles, $75 if you get only half a case.

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