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Tag Archives: syrah

Wine of the week: Feudo Zirtari Nero d’Avola-Syrah 2011

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Feudo Zirtari Nero d'Avola-Syrah One more reason that Sicilian wine deserves to enter the mainstream — the Zirtari ($12, purchased, 14%), a funky wine that is delicious yet does not seem especially Sicilian. One knows a wine region has found its niche when you can write that about one of its wines.

First, the Zirtari is almost one-half syrah, hardly a grape indigenous to the island. Second, the syrah gives it an almost Rhone-like character, richer (almost fatty) than similarly-priced Sicilian reds. Plus, there isn’t much earthiness, but there is well-balanced black fruit and the particular character that the Sicilian nero d’avola grape adds to a well-made wine.

In all, a wine that is enjoyable, dark, and almost brooding. It’s intense enough for summer barbecue and red meat, but not so heavy, with its 14 percent alcohol, to be be off-putting in hot weather. It was a most pleasant surprise to find when I was looking for something else.

Wine of the week: Saint-Cosme Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2012

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rhone_sud_saint_cosme_cotes_du_rhone_rouge_2012The Wine Curmudgeon has long been a fan of Saint-Cosme’s cheapest wines, the wonderfully-named Little James Basket Press red and white (and I can’t believe I haven’t done the white as a wine of the week yet). So I had high expectations when I stepped up a notch to the winery’s basic Cotes du Rhone red ($13, purchased, 14.5%).

These hopes were not disappointed. The rouge, made of syrah, was full of dark fruit (currants?), some earthiness and even a touch of licorice, which seemed like a lot to get from something at this price. Best yet, the high alcohol — about a point more than I expected — doesn’t get in the way of the wine. The higher alcohol seems natural, and not forced on it to get more fruit flavor and higher scores, as often happens in California. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the tasting notes are almost apologetic about alcohol level.

Highly recommended, and another example of what French wine that hasn’t sold its birthright to the International Style of Winemaking can be. This is a winter wine for stews and soups and strong cheeses after tramping snow and ice off at the front door.

 

Expensive wine 45: Terlato Vineyards Syrah Block #9 2007

block9Shortly after I started the blog, I was invited to attend a huge, big-deal wine event featuring five of California’s best-known expensive red blends, including Dominus and Opus One. The wines were all terrific, if terribly expensive and kind of same-tasting, and I had a surprisingly good time.

The irony in this – because, given that it involves the Wine Curmudgeon, there is always irony – is that none of the five were my favorite that day. The wine I liked the best was a $30 syrah from Terlato Family Vineyards, which sponsored the event. It was very little like the red blends, earthy and distinctive.

Since then, I have always appreciated Terlato’s syrah, and the Block #9 ($48, sample) did nothing to change my mind. It combines a New World focus on fruit with the Terlato earthiness that takes syrah in a direction it doesn’t go often enough.

Look for beautiful fruit, with a peppery aroma and blueberry notes that last through the entire wine. The finish isn't quite as long or what one would expect from a wine at this price; in this, it’s still young and the finish should flesh out over time.

This is Christmas beef wine, ready to drink now, or a gift for someone who wants to put it down for another couple of years. Availability may be limited, which is about the only bad thing I can say about it.

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