Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pondering Syrah

We really love a good Syrah. We like the notes of black fruit, smoke, and spice. But Syrah has also been for us the most inconsistent and disappointing wine in recent years.

There have been a spate of recent articles in Wine Spectator, Food & Wine, and several other publications about the “what?,” “why?,” and (especially) “why not?” of Syrah. Some have blamed the wine’s failure to become “the next Pinot Noir” on a lack of sexiness; on a glut of wimpy Aussie imports; on bad marketing; on-and-on.

In our opinion, the reason is more simple. If most consumers have had experiences like ours, they are simply deciding to shop for something “safer.” For example: In the last two years, we’ve had three corked bottles of red wine – all $10-15 price-point Syrahs. Just a few nights ago, we had a recommended and highly rated Syrah that tasted like dirty rainwater. (It wasn’t corked or otherwise “bad,” just an unpleasant taste profile.) And we gave up on Australian Shiraz (same grape, different spelling) some years ago when all we were getting were harsh, watery “red wines.”

So as much as we love good Syrah, we’re gun-shy. Why should we take the chance? And if reasonably knowledgeable consumers such as ourselves are avoiding Syrah because of a few (a few too many, actually) bad bottles, think how the average consumer would respond.