Syrah from around the world
A blind tasting of 10 high-end Syrahs from anywhere but the Rhône

This was an interesting tasting that formed part of the Hawkes Bay Syrah Symposium. The wines had been chosen by leading UK wine journalist Tim Atkin, and were served single blind: we knew which wines were in the line-up, but not the presentation order. 

It’s always fun to taste this way because you learn more both about the wines, and also your own palate. It’s good to revisit once the identities are known, though, because knowing what a wine is can help you understand it better.

Notes are written as tasted blind with minimal later editing just for grammar and style.


Gramercy Cellars ‘John Lewis’ Syrah 2006 Walla Walla Valley, Washington State
Fresh nose with nice meaty notes. Quite elegant with good definition and a hint of sappiness. Lovely weight on the palate, which shows pure fruit, some elegance, and good balance. Plum and black cherry fruit with some meatiness. Cool-climate character. 94/100

Collezione de Marchi Syrah Toscana 2006 Italy
Some coffee-like oak evident on the nose. Rich, spicy fruit with some earthy notes, and a strongly savoury streak. Firm tannins and a drying finish. Dense, grippy and full. 91/100

Quinta do Monte d’Oiro Reserva 2006 Estremadura, Portugal
Savoury, earthy and dense with warm, plumy, spicy fruit. A little baked and savoury, but otherwise nicely balanced. A warm style. 90/100

Boekenhoutskloof Syrah 2007 Wellington, South Africa
Nicely restrained nose. Lovely palate with good green character, notes of meat and olives and savoury structure. Cherries and plums. Expressive and complex, with lovely savoury character. 93/100

Man O’War Dreadnought Syrah 2008 Waiheke Island, New Zealand
Lovely intense, peppery nose. Very fresh. Pure dark fruits nose with some meatiness and lobvely peppery red fruit character on the palate. Expressive and elegant, this is a beautiful wine. 95/100

Saintsbury Rodgers Creek Syrah 2007 Carneros, Napa, California
Very fresh, pure and vivid, this reminds me of a new world Pinot Noir. It’s so expressive with lovely pepper, plum and cherry fruit, supported by good structure. Nicely dense with amazing freshness, purity and presence. Nice savoury personality with just a hint of green. 94/100

Matetic Vineyards EQ Syrah 2007 San Antonio, Chile
Ripe, rich, pure with lovely sweet dark cherry and blackcurrant fruit, as well as some spicy meatiness. Stylish, in a rich, fruit-driven style. Beautifully expressive with good tannic structure. 94/100

Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah 2007 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Rich, ripe and smooth with an intensely polished red fruit character and nice tannins. Good definition. Quite modern, but with lovely personality. A very pure expression of Syrah. 93/100

Yarden Syrah Ortal Vineyard 2004 Galilee, Israel
Slightly open, volatile nose, with liqueur-like cherry fruits. Open, sweet, smooth berry fruits on the palate, with the liqueur-like character dominating. Unusual, but nice. 91/100

Finca Sandoval 2007 Manchuela, Spain
76% Syrah, 13% Monastrell, 11% Bobal. Sweet, ripe, rounded fruit here with a hint of tar to the plumy, berryish fruit. There’s s distinctive savoury character here, with grippy tannins. Dense, nicely structured, and quite full. 90/100

Wines tasted 02/10
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