Wine 9: Syrah

Que syrah, syrah! That’s how the song goes, right? Well maybe not, but I’m sure Doris Day wouldn’t have minded singing about this scrumptious treat!

The first Monday back from vacation called for a glass (or more) of wine, as I settled back into the routine of work/life/etc. So you’re getting this a day later, after a good night’s rest.

Syrah is a full-bodied red with a big flavor profile and balance among the fruit, acidity and tannins. Similar to most other wines, depending on where your wine hails from, you can expect differences in the color, body, aroma and flavor (sounds like I’m saying it’s a totally different wine!). Traditionally though, you will get a full-bodied wine. Syrah is grown across the world, and oftentimes blended with other varietals to bolster the flavors. But, personally, I don’t think this grape needs any assistance at producing a quality wine. This grape’s parents are both from France – dureza and mondeuse blanche – and it is one of the parent grapes of petite sirah.

I’ve wanted to include syrah on this blog for a couple of reasons, not only because it’s one of the deepest, darkest red wines out there, but also because I was first introduced to this grape when I studied abroad in Australia, where it’s called shiraz and where I visited my first winery ::insert glorious choral singers ‘Ahhhhh!’::. I promise I’ll feature an Ozzie version in a future post.

img_2458.jpgOriginally, I wanted to go with a syrah from Washington, but I honestly had trouble finding one at my local stores within my particular price range (ahem, I wasn’t going to shell out $30+). So I landed on one that was highly recommended at another local wine shop which comes from Lodi (pronounced “Low-dye”), California and cost $17: Michael David Winery‘s 2013 6th Sense Syrah.

As I perused the shelves, this bottle stuck out to me. It reminded me of one of those super elegant wax seals, mixed with M. Night Shyamalan’s 1999 award-winning movie. You can see what I mean, right? The other fun fact I learned is that this winery makes another line of wines called ‘Freakshow’ … which I LOVE! If you haven’t tried it, please do. I’ve also heard amazing things about the ‘Inkblot’ line from the same winery (I still have to find it though!). Great things coming out of these people!! As it turns out, the vineyard manager is 6th generation, so I’m guessing that’s where the name comes from.

Anyway, syrah from the new world typically yields blue and black fruit flavors, with some chocolatey notes, and may have some spices like vanilla and clove subtly blended, if it’s aged in oak barrels. But what’s interesting is that syrah made its way to California multiple times…from multiple sources. The earliest recorded introduction of syrah to Cali’s hills was in 1936, using cuttings from the French variety. In 1970, California welcomed some cuttings from Victoria, Australia (where I lived!), and once more in 1973 from France. What does this mean? It means that California’s syrahs don’t fit one bill when it comes to flavor and aroma profiles. The new and old world grapes are planted across the state, so, as mentioned by Karen MacNeil in The Wine Bible, you’re able to get a mix of the French styles (gamy, minerality, white pepper) and the Australian styles (pepper, eucalyptus, licorice, fleshy fruit). Given this, I honestly had no idea what to expect when I opened this bottle, but I knew I’d like whatever poured into my glass.

So here we go:


Appearance: Man, this wine is pretty – don’t mind the bubbles, they’re from my aerator. A medium ruby/purple that reminded me of a melted crayon (in a good way). It had some thick legs on the glass that hung around, which makes sense since it’s got 15% ABV (uh oh, will it taste ‘hot’?!).

Nose: First smell….it just smelled like warmth, which was perfect because having just been on vacation in Jamaica, the Wisconsin winter quickly put that chill back in my day! I smelled blueberries and raspberries, a hint of fresh garden peppers, some smokiness and vanilla, too.

Taste: Oh my gosh this wine is amazing. It is so smooth, luscious, and had such amazing balance (which is not something I’ve mentioned in my previous posts) – it’s like all the stars aligned! It has a soft acidity, great fruitiness, and was actually not as full-bodied as I’d expected. But it all rounded out perfectly. You could definitely taste the fruitiness, which was evened out by a little baking spice and perhaps oak on the palate. Though I thought I’d get a powerful tannin, it was quite silky – again, super balanced.

After I let it sit for a while and open up, it actually seemed to gain some tannins, which is kind of backwards (usually letting it sit will soften the tannins), but it was still superb.


This is the back label of the wine. A cool poem, though I’m not sure being trapped in a delicious bottle of wine would be ‘unkind’!

All in all, this wine has made me fall even deeper in love with Michael David Winery’s offerings, and I truly look forward to trying some of their other lines. On their website, you can even check out a couple short videos about their sustainable farming practices, as well as some more information about the 6th Sense Syrah (partnered by a great music soundtrack). They’re actually pretty interesting to watch, as it takes you behind the scenes of their operation.

I’d definitely recommend trying this syrah, or another wine from Michael David Winery. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!


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