jamie goode's wine blog: New world Syrah with an old world feel

Saturday, April 05, 2008

New world Syrah with an old world feel

Sometimes living in England is a bit crap. It's April. Spring should be well underway. But after a lovely day yesterday, today was utterly nasty. I took older son and RTL for a walk along the river Crane while younger son was playing cricket on Twickenham green, and despite wearing my newly acquired, snazzy Terrazas hunting top (over an Achaval Ferrer polo shirt), I was freezing.

This afternoon we went over to Purley for the 40th birthday celebrations of a good friend, Michael, which meant we met up with a whole bunch of chums from when we were first married and living in south London. It was a fantastic event, with sumo wrestling, gladiators and a 'strongest man' competition. This involved various activities such as tossing the caber, welly throwing, and running a course carrying large rocks. The large rocks bit was the toughest test. You had to run to the end of the course and back carrying sequentially heavier rocks. The first and second were quite heavy, but the third was enormous and weighed as much as a small family car. I was in no danger of winning, but I was quite proud to have completed the course - it took about ten minutes to recover afterwards, and I still feel a bit weak now.

So, to the serious business of drinking wine. Two Syrahs tonight. Both from the new world. But both with a bit of old world style and freshness. In these days of £1 = Euro 1.25, it's reassuring that the new world isn't just pumping out big, super-ripe, obvious reds.

Howard Park Leston Shiraz 2005 Margaret River, Australia
Vibrant red/purple colour. The nose is distinctly Australian, with some mint, eucalyptus and tarry spiciness, along with sweet red and black fruits. The palate shows lovely freshness, with tight dark fruit and good acidity, along with well integrated oak. A really fresh, juicy style of Shiraz with real precision – I reckon this will age well. It’s a classically Australian style, but with more freshness and focus than most. I reckon this will be peaking in five years but good for 10 more. 91/100 (£14.50 Bibendum) 04/08

The Aurora Vineyard Syrah 2006 Bendigo, Central Otago, New Zealand
A beautiful cool-climate expression of Syrah. It has a really lovely white pepper and spice definition to the raspberry and dark cherry fruit, with an almost Burgundian elegance and freshness. There’s lovely purity to the fruit here, which is ripe and dark with great natural acidity. Real elegance here: it seems nicely poised between the new and old worlds in style. Not a big, dense, showy sort of wine, but utterly compelling – it reminds me of the best of the Gimblett Gravel Syrahs in style. Bendigo is a warm subdistrict of Central Otago, which explains why they’ve been able to make this wine from somewhere you wouldn’t expect to excel with Syrah. 92/100 (£16.99 http://www.hellionwines.com/) 04/08

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At 12:15 AM, Blogger Salil said...

Wow - Syrah as far south as Otago? I'll have to keep an eye out for it, given that I was bowled over by some of the Hawkes Bay examples.

BTW - as far as new world Syrahs with old world elegance go, I was recently in California for spring break and spent a few days up at Bennett Valley. There are some tremendous cool climate Syrahs coming from there - keep an eye out for Shane and Jemrose (as well as the Cardiac Hill Vyd Syrah from Carlisle), in case they make it to the other side of the pond. The best ones I tasted there were thrilling, elegant wines with lots of exotic spicy character and very pure, bright fruit and good acidity.

At 5:39 AM, Anonymous Grant said...

Did you get around to trying the Howard Park Scotsdale 2005? I think that it is even more impressive than the Leston.


At 5:16 AM, Anonymous Jayson Bryant said...

We have the luxury of tasting a lot of New Zealand Syrahs and I would have to say that Te Mata Bullnose and Passage Rock Reserve Syrah are the best examples representing value for money.
Also worth a splash out on is the Bilancia 'La Collina' Syrah. This wine has evrything but does cost a lot for a new world syrah.


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