Friday, February 15, 2008

Cool Climate Syrah may be Moving in on Pinot's Turf

If you long for the days when cool climate Syrah was "cool" perhaps the answer is to grow it where Pinot is dominating the terrior. I miss the days when I found black pepper intertwined with floral notes in my Syrah. Soon they might be able to prove what winemaker's, and I :) have long believed, is that this spiciness comes from cool climate Syrah. " The Australian Wine Research Institute announced last year that researchers had isolated a compound, rotundone, responsible for Syrah's classic black pepper character. Now it's seeking data to prove whether grapes in cooler sites have more of it. " *see below for reference . I'm glad that the Australian Wine Research Institute is looking out for me and my love of black pepper in syrah. While we wait for that to be resolved, I'm very happy to see that winemaker's, like Cristom, are exploring this varietal. Winemaker's in the cool climate of the Willamette Valley are flirting with Syrah and getting fantastic results. The Deux Vert vineyard and Adelsheim Vineyard's Calkin Lane are growing Syrah as well.

Check out this great article in the *SF GATE by John Bonne Here and come back and leave a comment whether you prefer the big bold fruity Syrah's often associated with Australian Shiraz or do you want your Syrah to be "cool" again?

14 Comments:

Sonadora said...

I can appreciate both styles, so I'd love to have more options in the "cooler" style! Bring it on!

Daveo said...

It's a rarity nowadays to find that good peppery Syrah. They seemed to be easier to find a couple of years ago. Both have their merits and time to enjoy, but finding a more peppery Syrah can be a pleasant companion to a steak dinner. I look forward to discovering cooler Syrahs.

Joe Roberts, CSW said...

Love `em both.

I guess it just depends on what's comin' off the grill that night!

Richard A. said...

I definitely would like to see more peppery Syrahs available.

Tim said...

Isn't the real question more like "Would anyone pay as much for a cool climate Syrah as they would for a Pinot Noir" or "Would certain wine critics who lean toward a big, fruit bomb style of Syrah ever give a 92+ point score to a lean, spicy, cool climate Syrah (or a lean spicy Pinot Noir for that matter).

Even though I prefer a cool peppery syrah much more than a big jammy one, I have to agree with Kris Curran - Who in their right mind would make grow grapes to make a wine that is a struggle to sell at $35 dollars when they can grow different grapes to make a $50 wine that sells out in 6 months?

If the market and regulations for French wines were different, I'll bet that producers in the Northern Rhone would have Dijonaise Pinot Noir clones planted in week. It is just grossly more lucrative.

Mark V Marino said...

I guess the question of profit is always a concern, however many a great break through was accomplished by stepping out and trying something that does not make a lot of sense. For years no one could grow a great Pinot then finally the cooler climate areas were planted and low and behold the result was in hindsight a great idea. Back in 1980 Pinots were non existent in northern
California, then Oregon was planted and many doubted that move. I say thank you to the pioneers who have the guts not to listen to people and just do what is in their hearts, let the chips fall where they may as these are the folks that do great things, because of their dream not profits...

Orion Slayer said...

Being a wine newbie, I don't associate Syrah and pepperiness at all. I'll have to try one of those Syrah's listed in the article and experience it for myself.

It's curious that a wine that you do associate with pepperiness, Zinfandel, excels in the heat. Is there any relation to the pepperiness of a Zinfandel and how hot the area it grows in?

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful post! I'm with you on the black pepper. Interestingly, I've always associated WHITE Pepper with PETITE SIRAH.

Interesting stuff.

Tom Wark
FERMENTATION: The Daily Wine Blog

SB Wine Advocate said...

As you can tell, I'm for the west coast investigating the cool climate peppery syrah's I loved fervently.

Some interesting points there Tim. Knowing how little Pinot Noir is available in the Santa Ynez valley, it would be pretty challenging to expect people to grow syrah when its so much more profitable to grow pinot. That said, I'm very excited by the new world investigating how to make syrah with some nuance and character. Perhaps others will tire of overpriced pinot noir and help support the work of some new world pioneers. As for the "wine critics" who routinely reward 92+ points to only the over-extracted hugely alcoholic fruit bombs.. the backlash hopefully has begun. The people want change!

ps: I love lean spicy Pinot Noir :)

SB Wine Advocate said...

Orion Slayer. Not sure if pepper and Zin have the same pepper I'm talking about in these cooler syrah's. Good Zin's do tend to have a nice spice that makes them perfect for steak! yum. Even Zins now are getting too big and perhaps a little too hot. Its rare I find a California Zin that is truly captivating. I've been a fan of Turley and Brochelle in Paso

Thanks Joe, Richard, and Sonadora for offering your two cents. I agree. I'm not kicking out a fun fruit syrah out the door just looking to mix things up.

Mark: I agree and hope that there are some winemakers out there who set out to make great wine be darned the Points Police and the people who buy on points alone..

Thanks for stopping by Tom! I'm glad you like the post. Been reading Fermentation almost daily.

Carol B. said...

I recently had the 2003 Snoqualmie Syrah because I was interested in tasting an Oregon Syrah. There wasn't a lot of pepper, but it wasn't very fruit-heavy either -- it made us curious to seek out other Northwest Syrahs. I love the peppery charcter and would like to see more of it.

MacNF said...

Just had a very reasonable $15 bottle of Jackson Triggs Silver Series
2008 Shiraz from the Niagara Region. It was an exceptional wine that had a dominant and alluring note of pepper.

reeta said...

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