Syrah v. Shiraz


Syrah and Sauvignon are grape varieties that have been catapulted into the public conscience by the New World. They were both bubbling along in France, hidden by the labels of Loire and Bordeaux (Sauvignon) or Rhone (Syrah) and the French preference for ‘terroir’. New Zealand grabbed Sauvignon whilst Australia took Syrah and turned the perceptions of the grapes into something completely different –  wines that declare themselves, wines that front-up, wines that swagger. But, sometimes, we prefer the gently persuader. This Syrah was one of those.

Jasmin’s Cote Rotie 1997 was a mere 12.5% ABV – a hand-grenade of a wine compared when with the fruit bomb of a 14.5% Australian Shiraz. This was 100% Syrah.

Its blood-red colour could be discerned, though it was impenetrable and had a black heart. This suggested very fine sediment and Richard confirmed it had not undergone any filtering. The nose had a slight menthol quality and very delicate perfume (which ,I declared, reminded me of a soap) but another writer stated as Germolene. (lovely!). Yet, underlying this was a rusticity, giving it some gravity.

On the palate it was smooth, light and belied its seventeen years, being dry and structured enough to return without the mouth feeling coated.  Without any of the residual sweetness so prevalent in Aussie Shiraz, it was gentle but savoury to the end.

No garden ‘Barbie’ wine this, but one to enjoy with calves’ liver (great idea from Richard) on a quiet night indoors.

[Richard: yet another – possibly the last – ‘golden oldie’ from Yapp at £49 which I don’t think I’d pay now. A very interesting drink though and a style that is slowly disappearing as the alcoholic levels of Rhone wines creep up, with 15% not uncommon now. That would have been unthinkable in 1998. On balance I’ve enjoyed these old wines very much. We’ve blogged on most of them and both felt that the Condrieu was outstanding, with the 1972 CdP and the 1984 Cote Rotie not far behind.]





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