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Everything old is new again

Posted by by Bill Belkin, wine and spirits category manager
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sitting by a roaring fire, clutching my stem of red wine, I am reminded of that old adage: “everything old is new again.”

All the new-fangled, techie equipment is advertised using songs from the 60’s and 70’s. Fashionistas are designing clothing with a distinctive “retro” look and we all talk about how so and so is a “throwback” to the golden age. So is it surprising that some of the “forgotten wines” are once again the most popular? Not really.

One of my favorite “throwbacks” is a Napa Syrah! Syrah was once going to supplant Merlot as the next “go to” grape for the casual drinker. But just like New Coke, that never happened. The trouble is folks became fixated on 7 words: “Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape.” True? Sure, but for the discerning palate, over-sugared Shiraz wines fall short on complexity and long on an oaky sweetness compared to small batch, hand-harvested Syrah wines.

However, the fact is people’s palates have changed. They grow weary of wines that assault the senses as well as the tongue. They long for flavors that feature fruit, not just wood from the barrel. And most importantly they want acidity, that hard to describe feature that cleans the palate with each sip, to allow the meal to be a featured player, not a cameo.

The leaders of this so-called renaissance have actually been around for decades. France and Washington State, along with the Central Coast of California are dictating a “new trend” that allows this versatile Syrah grape to regain some of its lost appeal. For at the end of the Cabernet day, the Syrah out performs as a steak wine (a natural flavor and aroma of beefy, peppery, bacon-fat laced notes) and as a persistent feel of roundness without flab.

Heck the Syrah based wines from the Northern Rhone of France (Cote Rotie and Hermitage) are downright food friendly and still vastly better suited for many food pairings than most Cabernets! Wine Spectator even named a Syrah its 2010 Wine of the Year. So what further proof do you need?

Run, don’t walk into one of our stores and ask the manager to assist in selecting some Syrah based wines. You too will soon be smiling to a “new” wine melody with and old fashioned back beat!

Tags: syrah

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