Why Syrah?

Syrah, why start a blog about California Syrah right now?  Much has been written about Syrah’s waning popularity in California these days.  The joke I’ve been hearing more and more lately is the one that goes, “What’s the difference between a case of pneumonia and a case of Syrah?  At least you can get rid of a case of pneumonia.”  What will be the future of Syrah in California, where will it go from here?  Pinot is king after all these days.  And Cabernet still reigns amongst the tourist set and Wine Spectator readers.

The truth is, I love Syrah but only when it’s grown in cool climates.  Without a long, cool growing season, Syrah tastes rather boring — like over-extracted cab. It can taste rather sweet and can contain over-the-top alcohol levels.  But Syrah, in the right climate, grown at the edge of its ability to ripen, can take on transcendent qualities, a combination of earthiness, dark fruit, and off-fruit flavors.

I’m certainly not the only one who loves cool-climate Syrah.  Cote-Rotie Syrahs, hermitage and other Northern Rhone varietals are renowned as some of the best wines in the world.  In California, ambitious Syrah aficionado winemakers exist, and many are attempting to grow the grape in cool climates in an attempt to bring those same transcendent qualities to California.  And they are.

These are great wines, and they deserve more praise and publicity than they are getting.  This blog will be my humble attempt to extol the virtues of these wines.  They don’t deserve to take the back seat to Pinot as they are now.

My goal is to “get to know” one of these wines as often as possible.  Of course, depending on budget, I’ll try to do more. I will try to give some background information on each.  I will celebrate these wines with the devotion that they deserve but of course if there are faults in the wine I will not ignore them. I’ll tell you where I was able to find the wines but I don’t have any relationship with any retailers or wineries.  My local wine shop is actually K and L Wines in Redwood City, CA so I’ll probably be mentioning them a lot but I have no affiliation with them.

Thanks for reading.Hurrah syrah!


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