Syrah under $15

It’s time to revisit value priced Syrah!

 


Shiraz, or should I say Syrah? Either way, you have one of the world’s truly noble grapes, yet one that tends to cause a bit of confusion. The two names don’t help of course, or the fact that, in theory, they represent two different styles of wine. One the one hand you have Syrah, the name in French that represents the style of wine produced through the Rhone Valley. A bit wild, fresh, gamy and slightly herbal at times. Shiraz on the other hand speaks more about Australia and her style of wine, big, bold, with rich dark fruits, more oak,  and peppery spice.

In either case though there are savory notes to the wines, note that sometimes don’t appeal to a wine drinking public. Notes that are responsible, to some degree, for the lack of interest in Shiraz/Syrah. The other great obstacle to Shiraz’s growing fame is the Australian affect.
In the past, the 1990s in particular and through the oughts Australia discovered that making bigger, bolder, and richer wines translated into more points, and as we all know more points, well that used to equal sales. the internet has levelled the playing field a bit, as has our shared experience with those very point wines. Wines that turned out to be best the day they were released in many cases, and wines that were thick, alcoholic, and sweet in many cases.

To a certain extent we have this phenomenon to thank for the lessing influence of specific wine critics, but the damage done was originally to just a handful of wines, chief among them Shiraz. You see, making wines bigger, bolder, riper, and fruitier is not a challenging proposition. Finesse, elegance, complexity, typicity, all of those traits require a deft hand. Making wines with more, wines that go to 11,  on the other hand, well that’s easy. So easy in fact that many producers did just that with, with increasing inexpensive versions of Shiraz that, for many palates, delivered just as much pleasure as the more expensive versions. perhaps even more.

And so it began, a race for the bottom. The competition was on to see who could make the most Shirazy Shiraz for the lowest price. A brand that had taken decades to develop was mortally wounded virtually overnight, and the collateral damage inflicted caused a world of Syrah to suffer as well.

Fast forward to the present day.  What we see is in many cases the mirror image of the revitalization of merlot in the post-Sideways era. Both varieties saw their vineyard space reduced, as productive but perhaps less well suited areas were grafted over to more profitable grapes. What remains is, as these go, pretty choice stuff. The slackened demand for both Merlot and Shiraz also put the brakes on price increases, rolling back the most egregious example. What we are left with, in a general sense, are wines that are well priced and offer real value for the money.

That were we step in. In our ongoing look at value wines we’ve been scouring the shelves for wines under $15, looking for both individual standouts as well as categories that deliver real bang for the buck.

So far we’ve tasted our way through:

GARNACHA UNDER $15
SANGIOVESE UNDER $15
BORDEAUX UNDER $15

There’s no doubt that the best wines were the Garnacha wines, though the best group[ of wines were from Bordeaux. It’s easily ascribable  to size, Bordeaux has an ocean of value priced option. But the point is clear, there is plenty of stiff competition out there at this price point and to be successful you really have to deliver the goods.

While Shiraz/Syrah may not be a wine to please all palates, the fruity, plush and easy style of Garnacha is much better suited to widespread acceptance, there is compelling evidence from this admittedly small sample set that Shiraz is a major contender in the value wine arena. There were a ton of great wines here, from around the globe. Both the fruitier and the savorier styles were well represented, and since many of these wines are built on more than just fruit alone the prognosis for some continued positive development in the glass is quite good, even if modest in the broadest sense.

So get out there and try some Shiraz or Syrah. And don’t tell me you don’t like Shiraz or Syrah. that’s like saying you don’t like vegetables. Some you may, some you will not, but not all Shiraz is created alike and wit the quality and diversity at levels never before seen it is absolutely time to get back in the trenches and take advantage of the coming golden age of Syra!

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Top Value Shiraz Tasted 3/14

1.
Six Hats Shiraz (2012)
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2.
Yalumba Shiraz Y Series (2012)
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3.
Stonecap Syrah (2011)
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4.
Nederburg Shiraz the Winemaster's Reserve (2009)
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5.
Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz (2010)
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6.
Earthworks Shiraz Barossa Valley (2011)
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7.
Rock.Face Syrah Lodi (2012)
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8.
Cycles Gladiator Syrah (2010)
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9.
Rayun Syrah Central Valley (2010)
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Comments

  • Now this is a deal, but has anyone tried these? I am not familiar with these?

    Apr 11, 2014 at 3:57 PM


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