Although Syrah’s natural homeland is France, it’s a grape that grows abundantly in plenty of winemaking regions, especially those with warm and moderate climates. Where it’s grown will influence specific characteristics. Still, there are a few qualities drinkers can always expect to find in a quality bottle of Syrah, including bold, rich black fruit, and spicy aromas and flavor. Here are a few bottles experts say are a great global representation of the grape.
5 bottles to try:
From the steep slopes of the Northern Rhône in France comes this wine by Domaine Faury. It possesses a “great balance of savory tones that are silky, peppery, and earthy,” says Kelly Cornett, wine educator and founder of A Cork in the Road in Atlanta, Georgia. There’s a noticeable fruit quality in this wine, with lively and luscious blackberry, raspberry, and red currant aromas and flavors. “If I could always have a case of this wine in stock at home, I would. It’s a real bang for the buck and an excellent introduction to everything I love about Northern Rhône Syrah,” Cornett says.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot are among the most popular varieties of grapes to grow within the Galilee mountains in Israel. However, the varying climates and soil types of Tabor, where this wine is produced, make the area prime real estate for other wine styles. Tabor Winery’s Shiraz is the standout for Sara Lehman, the New York City-based sommelier behind the wine consultant service Somm in the City. “I love this Syrah because it’s easy to drink and has all those beautiful black pepper, plum, and cassis flavors. It’s ideal for entertaining many palate preferences,” Lehman says.
Winemaker Julien Cécillon is all about producing wine that genuinely expresses the land from which it comes. The Syrah grapes used for this bottle are just one shining example of the depth and complexity found within the Rhône Valley, particularly the southern regions of Drôme, Ardèche, and Cécillon’s hometown Tournon. The bottle’s name, Les Graviers, which translates to “gravel,” refers to the signature soil type in which fruit for this wine grows. As for the taste, it’s a “classic expression from Syrah,” according to Matt Whitney, a sommelier and general manager at The Tavern by WS in New York City. It’s big and bold with dark fruit aromas and flavors, meaty nuances, and a nearly never-ending finish. “This is the perfect bottle to crack open on any occasion with friends this time of year,” says Whitney.
Another recommendation from Whitney, who says the wine produced by Piedrasassi “never fails to disappoint.” Winemaker Sashi Moorman has a penchant for producing wines that honor the styles of Northern Rhône but which exude the flair and finesse of California’s Central Coast. This Syrah hails from Santa Barbara County, where the grapes are picked a bit earlier in the harvest to maintain freshness and acidity. However, the wine still displays ripe blackberry, plum, and fig fruit quality with chewy tannins and a long, refined finish. “Pound for pound, this is one of the greatest values in wine from one of the best Syrah producers in the world. This is an incredible value and a perfect wine for the holiday table or any big dinner,” says Whitney.
If there were only three words to describe the Syrah made by Washington state winery L’Ecole, it would be spicy, rich, and complex. Although the winery’s estate-grown grapes reside in vineyards overlooking the Walla Walla Valley, the company works with grape growers throughout the state, including a few in the Columbia Valley winemaking region. “It’s a plush and velvety red that serves up loads of red fruit, black fruit, and peppery spice,” says Brianne Cohen, a Los Angeles-based certified sommelier and wine educator.