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Wine Of The Week – Quinta Sardonia, Castilla y Leon 2007

December 2, 2011 3:17 pm - Posted by Jody in Drink

Quinta Sardonia, Castilla y Leon 2007REGION: Sardón del Duero, SPAINREGION:Sardón del Duero, SPAIN

94 POINTS, WINE ADVOCATE:

“The 2007 Quinta Sardonia is made up of 51% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), 29% Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec aged for 18 months in French oak. Purple-colored, it delivers an already complex perfume of Asian spices, violets, incense, espresso, black cherry, and blackberry. upple-textured, sweetly-fruited, impeccably balanced, and structured enough to evolve for another 3-4 years, it will offer a drinking window extending from 2013 to 2027. It is already being proclaimed as Spain’s next cult wine.”

– Wine Advocate 188 April 2010

The estate’s full name is Vinas de la Vega del Duero but all you need to remember is Quinta Sardonia. Located in Sardon del Duero, just outside the Ribera del Duero demarcation line but close enough for inclusion in this report, Quinta Sardonia is a biodynamic project from Peter Sisseck (of Pingus fame) and Jerome Bougnaud. The estate has about 37 acres under vine planted in 2000. The wine is typically composed of a blend of roughly 50% Tempranillo, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the balance Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec with aging for 18 months in French oak. It is already being proclaimed by some as Spain’s next cult wine.

Quinta LandscapeThe Story:

Like much of viticultural Spain, Sardon del Duero has a long history of winemaking. As far back as 2,000 years ago, there is strong evidence of grape growing and winemaking by the Romans. Located just outside of the more famous region of Ribera del Duero, the wines of Sardon del Duero are also based around Tinto Fino and traditional Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.

Created in 2002, Quinta Sardonia is a joint project between star winemaker Peter Sisseck of Pingus (Ribera del Duero) and Jerome Bougnaud. Located just 400 meters from the Duero river, the property lies at 700-800 meters above sea level. Cultivated in biodynamics since the beginning, the property is cultivated without synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.
Sardon del Duero does not benefit from the constantcy of climate in the Southern part of the country and experiences dramatic shifts in temperatures and climatic conditions throughout the year. The winters are quite cold, with temperatures as low as -18 degrees Celsius, and the summers are hot and very dry, with lower than average rainfall than the rest of Spain.

Altitude is between 750 and 950 meters and the soil is made up of clay alternated in many parts by sheets of limestone and harder chalk. The vineyards are plowed under and compost (which is made at the property) is used between the rows once a year. Harvest is always carried out by hand and there is a very aggressive triage at the winery before crush. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks of 10,000 liters which are specifically made for the estate and are very low and wide. Ageing is in new French oak for at least 18 months. Production is still quite low and the first vintage was only 6,000 bottles.

Peter Sisseck has brought some serious fame to the region of Ribera del Duero.  His other winery Pingus, is one of the most highly sought after wines in the world and the prices match accordingly: a bottle of Pingus can go for upwards of $1000.  To be able to get a wine from Peter at this reasonable price is a real value, so don’t miss your chance to own the newest cult wine from Spain!

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Syrah or Shiraz ? Anyone?

March 5, 2011 1:52 pm - Posted by otta in Learn

Like the ongoing debate over how to pronounce tomato, the Syrah/Shiraz question threatens to get nasty, but it shouldn’t because they’re the same grape. Honestly!

To set things straight from beginning, Shiraz and Syrah are the exact same grape variety. It is a black grape which originated in the Rhone region in the South of France where it is known under the name Syrah. The name Shiraz was invented by the Australians, like many of their other slang terms. The name Shiraz has been used in Australia for close to 200 years although some still believe it originated in Iran in the city of the same name. But it didn’t, trust me.

In France you will find Syrah under the demographical labelling, Hermitage or Crozes Hermitage in North Rhone, as well as Cote Rotie , where it’s being blended with a little bit of Viognier (a white, aromatic grape variety). In the South Rhone, Syrah is a secondary wine in a majority of blends including Chateauneuff du Pape, Cote du Rhone and Gigondas. In those wines Grenache is the dominant grape variety. In other southern French regions, including Vin de Pays d’OC it’s labelled simply Syrah for easier recognition.

The classic style of Syrah is a wine with high alcohol, full body, high level of tannins and moderate acidity. Dark berry fruit, pepper, chocolate and spice, with earthy and leathery under tones make it unmistakable.

Another important area for Syrah production is south Italy, especially Sicily. Their Syrahs are rich and full bodied with low level of tannins, but high levels of alcohol. Blackberries and dark chocolate covered cherries would be appropriate descriptors here.

By contrast the Shiraz in Australia is a very different tasting wine. In Australia Shiraz always carries it’s varietal name even if it is also sometimes blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or as in the French example with Grenache and Mourvedre. (a.k.a. GSM). Other large New World Shiraz producing regions include South Africa, Chile, Argentina, California and the Pacific North West (Washington State and British Columbia)

Shiraz in these countries seems to be much riper and juicier and is known for it’s chewy characteristics, meaty and deep dark fruit concentrations.  Chocolate and peppery spice dominates the flavours. In the cooler areas of the Pacific North West it seems to have more red and blue fruit characteristics and appears to be more gamey and minty, with flavours of green peppers. The cooler climate variations tend to also have much higher level of tannins than in the Southern locations.

Which is better Old World Syrah or New World Shiraz? I have no idea, just an opinion or two and so I think the debaters should just kiss and make up and  try each to learn about their own opinions.

In this spirit, many New world producers choose to use both names, and it is quite often that you find Shiraz and Syrah from the same producer, creating 2 different styles of wine.

California is producing some high quality examples combining the best of both worlds; offering the richness and concentration of the new world Shiraz, with great tannic structure and finesse of old world Syrah.

I recommend buying a bottle of French Hermitage and Australian Shiraz in the same price point and comparing those two styles side by side. I guarantee you will be surprise how different those 2 wines are. Cheers!!!

Blog by: Otta Zapotocky, General Manager and Sommelier at Wildfire Steakhouse Wine Bar