Hello Wine Lovers

Hello wine lovers, tonight June 8, 2009 from 5pm to 8pm at Ralphs Downtown, we will taste two of the same wines from different parts of the world, Syrah from California and France and Shiraz from Australia. 

The ancient city of Shiraz is said to be the birthplace of the Shiraz grape, not too far from what now is modern day Baghdad.  It seems strange to think of a Muslim country as the birthplace of any alcohol, but in ancient times things were different to say the least.  Syrah is a popular grape grown in France in the Rhone Valley and often times blended with Grenache and Mouvedre to produce a typical Rhone Valley red blend.  California produces Syrah in the warmer climate wine growing regions.  Syrah began growing in a desert environment and requires high amounts of hot weather to become ripe and full flavored.  Australia has taken this grape to the next level. Pronounced  (shrrr Razz) Shiraz is blended with three major grapes grown in the southwest and east coast of Australia.  Cabernet, Mouvedre, Merlot is all blended with Shiraz to create wonderful deep rich red wines with full fruit character and jammy sweetness.  Red currant, blackberry, and black cherry are types of flavors that come to mind from this hot weather maven of the wine world.  Foods to pair with such deep rich wines must be equally rich in structure with a good amount of seasoning to entice the wines full potential from the glass to your palate.  In France a pate of goose liver and duck fat and brandy would certainly fair well with a rugged Rhone Syrah, or maybe a fine cassoulet of sausage white beans and a savory sauce to bring it together might pair well. Here in California grilled steaks on the barbeque or slow roasted Prime rib would be an excellent combination with Syrah on any given night.  As you might guess lamb is a big Australian dish paired with Shiraz.  The versatility of cooking styles associated with lamb leaves open the creative chef to pair slow roasted, or grilled and open spit lamb dishes to accompany the ferocious flavors of South Australian Shiraz. 

Popular producers of Shiraz, Syrah vary as much as the places it is grown. Recently I was invited to judge the LA International wine event at the LA Fairplex—I met Gary Eberle of Eberle Wines.  Gary produces a fantastic Syrah from the Central Valley deep rich ripe fruit with balanced tannins and a smooth finish.  Australia produces the majority of Shiraz that is sold in the country by a long margin.  Penfolds, Yellow Tail, Greg Norman (yes the golfer) Ernie Ells also a golfer from Australia, all have some type of Shiraz or Shiraz blend on the market.  The price ranges from a modest bottle being only around 8 dollars from the sublime to the ridiculous at Penfolds Grange fetching anywhere from 3 to 5 hundred dollars a bottle depending where you are purchasing from and what year is available. 

Tonight I will expose the mystery that surrounds the Shiraz vs. Syrah by featuring a selection of wines that reflect the blends and the single varietals character in the wine.  Food pairing will be hearty cuts of something and some great blue cheese and strong structured cheese to hold up to the wine. Cheers!

Mike The Wine Guy 

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