Vino Tuesday!

I’m the Executive Director of a winery development company in Southern California. A large part of my job is helping our clients define and promote their brands. Today, I’m scheduled to do a podcast for a client – it will be about Syrah. Fortunately for me, Syrah is my favorite wine! So, I thought I’d do an extemporaneous factoid dump on my blog today!

Let me start by saying a Petite Syrah is a totally different grape. Adding to this confusion, several wine producing countries call the Syrah a Shiraz, this is the same grape. More important than the difference in Syrah vs Shiraz, is the difference in where it’s made.There are two basic style concepts to note:

  1. Old World Style (Syrahs)

Where the earth plays as great a role as the fruit. Typically Old World styles offer wines that evolved with the climate, culture, and cuisine. These wines are generally best enjoyed paired with the local cuisine of their origins. Old World constitutes mainly Europe at large.

The most iconic version of an Old World Syrah is a Rhone wine from Southern France. You might see an Hermitage, a Cotes du Rhone, Cote Rotie or a Chateauneuf du Pape, all of which generally have Syrah in them. Like most European wines, these are blends, but the Syrah is king in this region. These wines are all about the earthy-smokey flavors. Wines never have actual salt in them, but big Old World style Syrahs can often have a savory essence. They are also known to offer bacon fat in their flavor profiles. When tasting these wines, think dark, rich earthy flavors – dried figs, lavender, fennel/anise, currants, etc.

When pairing these wines with food – look to the region they come from. Grilled and roasted meats, (Lamb is a big favorite), root vegetables, mushrooms, and hearty stews; basically foods that are bold and rich in flavor.

  1. New World Style (Shiraz and Syrahs)

More contemporary practices emphasize the fruit and are able to be drunk on their own. They are usually more fruit-forward then their Old World counterparts, and aren’t made to specifically pair with the food of their origins. New World constitutes North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Chile is one exception, and is sometimes referred to as an Old World region in the midst of the New World.

The most iconic versions of a Shiraz hail from Australia. The Shiraz’ from this region are generally very fruit-forward, extracted, and intense due to the warm weather and fast ripening of the fruit. The wines tend to offer lots of intense blackberry, black cherry, and black pepper. Like I mentioned earlier, these wines are more adaptable to stand-alone drinking. This is because of the emphasis on the fruit. But, like their Old World counterparts, they love food too. Pair both with big bold flavors. They work wonders with big peppery steaks, and dishes that incorporate more intense fruit flavors – like a grilled rack of lamb with a cherry-demi glace.

Anyway, if you want to live well on this Tuesday, the fifth day of 2010, you should include a Syrah/Shiraz in your evening plans! And if you do, let me know what one you drank and what you thought about it?

Cheers, Patrick


2 Responses to “Vino Tuesday!”

  1. January 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Outstanding. I can’t wait to read more about Petite Syrah. My Dad LOVES the McClaren Vale Syrah/Shiraz of Australia… considers them among the finest red wines in the world. I drank a LOVELY Tensley from Santa Barbara County this past summer. $40 but worth every drop.

  2. 2 Patrick Bartlett
    January 5, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks j4kesutter! I’m saving Petite Syrah for a mailbag discussion. I’m also gonna talk about the Chilean “Old World” connection – I can’t help myself, I’m an anecdotal wine junkie!!! I’d love to hear more about the Tensley Syrah – based on my post, would you classify it as a New World, or Old World style?

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Patrick Bartlett

A conversation about food, wine, and the art of living well!


January 2010
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