Syrah, when grown in its Northern Rhône homeland produces wines with a deliciously savoury and peppery style, that make it a perfect choice for these late winter/early spring days.
Ferraton’s Crozes-Hermitage la Matiniere (€17.95 down from €19.95) is a great example of this style, a beautifully balanced lighter style of Syrah in which elegance and very pure fruit combine, resulting in a silk-smooth red that works well with a wide range of dishes from grilled red meats to roast poultry.
Made with 100% hand-picked grapes from vineyards in and around St. Joseph, Cave Saint-Desirat (€10.00 down from €14.45) is an elegant and superbly balanced Syrah, medium-bodied with very pure, black-berried fruit – although this is labelled as a simple Vin d'Ardèche it is easily of St. Joseph quality and would work beautifully with Lamb cutlets.
Like most other Rhône Varietals, Syrah is very widely planted in the neighbouring Languedoc region, and Les Beauchamps (€14.95, Buy 1 Get 2nd Half Price) is a superb Syrah, which perfectly reflects the sun-drenched terroir of the Languedoc. Super-smooth and jam-packed with ripe bramble fruit and hint of spice, it's equally good with or without food.
Of course, while Syrah’s story may begin in France, it certainly doesn’t end there, the grape variety, along with many others was introduced to Australia by James Busby in 1831 and since that time the spelling and pronunciation has evolved to give us Shiraz.
In the hotter drier climates of Australia, Shiraz produces wines that tend to be rich and full-bodied with intense dark bramble fruit along with relatively higher alcohol.
Nowhere in Australia is more closely associated with Shiraz than the Barossa valley, so for my final selection, I have chosen a wine made by 6th generation Barossa winemaker Geoff Schrapel.
Made from early-harvest grapes grown on the Schrapel family’s Barossa vineyards. Bethany Creek (€12.95 down from €19.95) is a very elegant, rather European style red with slightly floral and red cherry characters on both the nose and the palate. The finish is soft and smooth thanks to two year’s careful oak ageing. To see this wine at its best, pair it with a fine fillet steak.