Drinks: Grenache, Wines

Syrah/Shiraz & Grenache: The Rest of the New World

Good wines, good prices and a variety of styles, Syrah was one of the stand-out varieties for the New World

The rise of Syrah in the rest of the New World over the last few years has been nothing short of astonishing, with Chile, South Africa and New Zealand all putting forward a good selection of wines this year, at prices that ranged from Accrington Stanley to Real Madrid.

Moreover, it seems that each country is able to create wines that sommeliers like,
with a good spread of medals across Gold, Silver and Bronze.

Chile, as you might expect, tended to take most of the medals under £10, but it was significant that both of the country’s Golds were £11 plus and also that, proportionally, the country’s winemakers sent in more expensive Syrahs than Cabernets. Do they, I wonder, see Syrah as having more potential in their climate and terroir than Cab? If so, they may be right, for these wines were exceptionally popular right the way through the competition.

Key to their success was their stylistic position halfway between the Rhône and Australia: fruit ripeness with spice and, crucially, a nice lift of acidity as well. ‘I was surprised how elegant Chile’s wines were, they were almost not New World,’ said Charlotte Jonasson.

So it was left to the South Africans (through Boutinot’s Silver-medal-winning Percheron Shiraz/Mourvèdre) to take the ‘best value’ slot. In fact, the country attracted a good amount of positive comment for the work it was doing with the grape generally.

Yet perhaps the story of Shiraz belongs to New Zealand. The grape remains a minority interest around the Cook Strait but if you combine the negative feedback for the country’s showing in the Cabernet category with the Gold and two Silvers here, there’s a pretty strong case for a large-scale uprooting of Bordelais reds and their replacement with Syrah.

Fresher, cooler climate equals savoury wines with more food compatibility; they were felt to be more refined yet still with good structure and intensity. Viewed in the context of New World Shiraz they look fairly expensive. But perhaps it’s more accurate to compare them with Northern Rhônes, and suddenly they seem a far more affordable option.

‘New Zealand Syrah might be a minority taste at the moment, but it’s worth persuading people to trade up as this is where they will find great value,’ said Peter McCombie MW.

‘[The Man O’ War] stood out,’ added Nick Chiu. ‘While it is a little youthful, it combined a mix of New and Old World (Rhône) characteristics and had the structure, flavour-spectrum and intensity to cover many options food-wise.’

“I really enjoyed the Chilean Syrahs. They had subtlety and a sense of place: classy wines for the money, they ticked all the boxes. ” Emily O’Hare, The River Café


Undurraga Terroir Hunter Syrah 2008, Limari, Chile
£11.50 @ Moreno Wines
  Pleasing aromas of blackberries and brambles invite you in, with spicy notes of cloves and nutmeg leading through to a mid-weight palate. The palate shows good power with oodles of brambles and blackberry fruit plus tinges of mocha chocolate and a warm, soft finish. ‘Overall the wine punched above its weight, even at this tasty price point,’ said Caspar Auchterlonie.

Agustinos Gran Terroir Syrah 2009, Aconcagua, Chile
£11.99 @ Bibendum
SWA 2011 Gold List Very savoury – think mortadella or speck – with hints of eucalyptus, ripe cherry fruit, notes of liquorice and a rich finish. ‘Complex and layered. Interesting and cool climate,’ said Tom Harrow. ‘This is a food wine,’ said Mark Deamer, before adding: ‘A great match for ragouts and stews. Will age beautifully.’

Man O’ War Vineyards Dreadnought Syrah 2008, Waiheke Island, New Zealand
£17.70 @ New Generation Wines
SWA 2011 Gold List With a black fruit character tinged with coffee, spices and a note of oak, this
is complex. ‘The palate is full bodied, rich and intense,’ said Alexandre Céret, ‘but it needs time. Good potential.’


Percheron Shiraz/Mourvedre 2010, Western Cape, South Africa
£4.45 @ Boutinot
Plenty of fresh black bright fruit in this good value Shiraz blend, this is easy drinking but appealing. ‘Rounded intense fruits of the forest with blackcurrants and smokiness on the back palate,’ said Nicola Thomson. ‘Good by the glass,’ said Roberto Loppi.

Marques de Casa Concha Syrah 2008, Maipo Valley, Chile
£6.50 @ Concha y Toro UK
Good, ripe red and black fruit, with liquorice and spice plus hints of smoke and cocoa
powder. ‘Elegant with a long, fresh finish,’ said Robert Giorgione. Mark Deamer felt it young:
‘There is plenty there for when it does knit,’ he said.

Echeverria Syrah Reserva 2008, Curico Valley, Chile
£6.94 @ Hallgarten Druitt
Very expressive,’ was Paulo Brammer’s verdict.

Perez Cruz Syrah Limited Edition 2009, Maipo Alto, Chile
£9.27 @ Novum Wines
A popular contender, with a spicy, ripe and fresh palate and good long finish. Emily O’Hare
really liked its ‘beautiful fresh nose, with peppermint leaf and floral notes’. ‘Soft, perfumed
and very pretty,’ said Tom Harrow.

Trinity Hill Syrah 2009, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
£9.34 @ Enotria
A beautiful rounded wine, with aromas of violets and juicy black fruit, and a palate filled with purple plums, morello cherries and hints of liquorice and pepper. Medium-bodied with high alcohol and good length. ‘Fab with lamb,’ said Michael Moore.

Emiliana Organic, Winemaker’s Selection Syrah 2008, Casablanca Valley, Chile
£9.50 @ Boutinot
In darker territory here, this dense but elegant wine shows spicy tar and leather, with notes of coffee alongside the pure black berries and currants on the palate. ‘Lovely spiciness and minty aftertaste,’ said Alvaro Marcos Garcia.

Tinpot Hut Syrah 2008, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
£11.88 @ Liberty Wines
With cassis, pepper and mineral aromas on the intensely fragrant nose, this opens up to offer restrained cassis fruit with cocoa notes, white pepper and hints of minerality. Good freshness. ‘Great with rack of lamb,’ suggested Kelvin McCabe.


Santa Carolina Reserve Shiraz 2008, Chile
£5.40 @ Greene King
Silky, sweet purple fruit with smoke, chocolate and coffee and a juicy finish. Well made and good weight of flavour for the money. ‘Rich and modern – lots of fruit. Lovely,’ said Jamie Goode.

Lomond Estate Syrah 2008, Cape Agulhas, Western Cape, South Africa
£6.83 @ Forth Wines
A dash of oak gives the peppery black fruits on the palate a hit of smoke and sweet spice
to run alongside the bright acidity.

Chocolan Syrah Reserva 2009, Maipo Valley, Chile
£8.38 @ Liberty Wines
European in style, this shows concentrated blackberry fruit sweetness and elegance with soft tannins that lead to a spice-lifted finish. ‘Some smoky, tarry oak,’ said Jamie Goode.

Maycas del Limari Reserva Especial Syrah 2008, Limari Valley, Chile
£8.50 @ Concha y Toro UK
Dark, deep and plush on the nose with glossy, meaty, savoury notes, Mark Deamer was a fan.
‘I can’t imagine a barbecue that wouldn’t benefit from a wine of this style.’

Waterkloof Circumstance Syrah 2008, Stellenbosch, South Africa
£10.59 @ Boutinot
With a complex melange of flavours including olives, spices and mint as well as black fruit, this is a well-balanced, well-structured, serious wine.

KWV The Mentors Shiraz 2008, South Africa
£11.05 @ Cavendish Wines
After inviting dark fruit aromas, this polished wine is packed with dense blackberry and blackcurrant fruit and finished with a lick of spice.

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