Syrah - the wonder grape

After writing the review on one of of Pax’s wines, and also reading the Pinot Noir thread, it again hit me - the sheer span Syrah can bridge is amazing. It excels when you pick it at 18 brix and it excels when you pick it at 28 brix, and all iterations in between - what other grape has that breath? What other grape can do that? I can’t think of many.

Furthermore, it also doesn’t seem to really care what terroir it’s in - it delivers no matter what, even from pooh-pooh’ed soils. I can count on one hand the truly awful Syrah wines I’ve had, but I sure can stack them up from most other varieties.

I’m in a love phase with Syrah at the moment, so forgive this exuberant post. When I go to the cellar (or the over-temp pantry, let’s be honest) the thing I reach for the most these days is that. It’s like an old friend you know you’re always going to have great conversation with. :grinning: :+1:


Couldn’t agree more. Especially some of the lighter more aromatic styles. If you’re looking a new world region to try, pls look out for some Syrahs out of South Africa from regions like:
Polkadraai Hills (in Stellenbosch)
Ceres Plateau
Kasteelberg (in Swartland)
I think these are quite literally some of the most exciting syrahs in the new world right now, and it seems that journalists like Tim Atkin, Jamie Goode, and Alder Yarrow all agree.
If you want specific producers, I’d be happy to recommend.


Our recent sentiment on this Subject…

All three were different, yet all stellar and drinking well.

Edited to Add:
A quick check of CT shows:
Consumptions Grouped by Varietal
Syrah: 879
Pinot Noir: 548
Chardonnay: 516
Cabernet Sauvignon: 305
White Blend: 211
Sauvignon Blanc: 170
Red Blend: 159
Red Bordeaux Blend: 146
Red Rhone Blend: 146

  • Syrah Blend was further down the list at 92

Cheers! :wine_glass:



It’s been about 75% of my cellar for a few decades now and I am not losing my enthusiasm. Syrah reflects its terroir to a greater degree than any of the common varieties although wine making can attenuate or obliterate it. I expect to be thrashed for writing that but I’ll stand by it as someone who’s made a study of it. Yes pinot can be mind-blowing in all its subtlety and variations but it’s not altered in its presentation by terroir to the same degree. However, for syrah terroir influence seems to be more dramatic in young wines and that influence fades more rapidly than say in pinot which can become more obvious with age.


These threads are fascinating to me, hearing from people with such different palates. Our syrah consumption from the cellar has hovered around 0.5% over the last 5 years. We almost never wish for it or reach for it, though we’ve had some good ones that friends open. I can’t say I dislike it - in fact, I’d probably say I do like the varietal character, and great bottles of Chave, for instance, have been amazing - I just never want it, if that makes sense. I like eggplant parmesan (good versions) just fine, but it would never occur to me to order it or make it, and I’d certainly never crave it.

I’m not arguing anyone’s taste here, just sharing a moment of looking at the world through others people’s eyes and finding it very different.


You had me until the eggplant part. I guess my heritage is kicking in :joy: :joy:


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Just don’t blend it with Pinot. :snort:


I’ve perceived a east/west coast divide in perception of syrah that has to do with availability. It’s simply much easier to get a wide variety of CA and WA syrah the further west you go while you would really have to work at finding a good representation in the Acela corridor. It’s the higher production stuff that spreads further on the winds of commerce. On the other hand, being far west of the Mississippi makes it challenging to explore other wines such as Chinon or certain Burgundy producers.


Syrah is my second favorite varirty of wine right after Riesling, so I’m on board with this sentiment! I like all kinds of Syrah, from N. Rhone, to the Rocks, to the huge CA Syrahs like SQN. In addition to the wide variety of great Syrah, I tend to find it more interesting than other red wine from similar climates/regions.


Perhaps, even likely for the general population. But I doubt that explanation or divide exists so much for those of us with access, information, the ability to travel and taste frequently, and the interest to have done so.


I love Syrah, but I have to be specifically in the mood for it. Granted I am in that mood reasonably often, but given the breadth of styles, and that sometimes it’s not terribly clear what style you will get in a given wine from a given producer, I am loath to open Syrah for anyone but me and a few very close friends whose preferences I know extremely well.

Exceptions exist (e.g., the Bedrock California Syrah, which is a real crowd pleaser).


I love Syrah. NR Syrah is around 25-30% of my collection and by far the area i have most from.


Syrah makes up 54% of my cellar. I love the Syrah’s coming out of Santa Barbara County, especially those from Tensley, Andrew Murray, Frequency, and Stolpman. I also am a huge fan of N. Rhone wines. I have really gotten into St. Joseph lately which I feel is totally underrated.


As far as St. Joe being underrated, I would say that’s increasingly out of date. The stuff is going up in price like everything else. Used to be the value play.

Syrah doesn’t make up that large a part of our cellar mainly because we drink it so much so it never sits around. We have a few older ones, but it’s normally my go-to because it is such a chameleon and reflects terroir so much more than any other grape I can think of. It can often seem like it’s a completely different grape as well, and with age it becomes even more nuanced and different. Unlike Pinot Noir, which can taste like big, ripe, gooey, sticky Pinot Noir or pretty good Pinot Noir, Syrah can be really hard to ID blind. It can be thick and gooey, dark and fruity, light and peppery, even slightly green. And it blends so nicely with so many other grapes, although I’ve yet to be convinced that it’s a great blend with Cab. I’ve always loved it and over the years, despite being exposed to many more grapes, I’ve continued to love it.

And there’s so much good and even great Syrah being made today just in CA, that it’s a great time if you love that grape.


I’d drink this just about any night!


St. Joseph isn’t underrated. It’s all that’s left other than Crozes. Prices are increasing beyond reasonable levels for pretty much everything, so barely-affordable St. Joe is somehow a bargain. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Not many bigger fans on the board as Reynvaan me. Get them at auction for less than club members which I love.

I/we like syrah quite a bit too, and I have no problem opening them for anyone. It’s not the #1 variety in our cellar (Nebbiolo, at ~11%), but it’s in a cluster of several varieties not far below the top spot. For me, it’s a go-to with grilled red meat, especially when black pepper is a noticeable component of the seasoning, and I’ll often reach for one with lamb, as well.

  • 2011 Reynvaan Family Vineyards Syrah Foothills Reserve - USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley (10/11/2022)
    Day 1: Aromatic! Strawberry, wet stones, black pepper, violets, earth, green olives and pepper corn. While not a powerhouse the finish on this wine is quite long. Complex and a thinking wine drinkers’ wine. Outstanding effort and many more years of drinking. 94 points
    Day 2: Nice evolution of change on day 2. This is a bit bigger in style than the elegance of day 1. Blueberries, cherry, black pepper, earth, black olives, exotic spices, rose petals and wet stones. Super complex and even better than day 2. Yes 10 plus years from vintage good wines improve on day 2 and there is a solid glass waiting day 3. 95 points
    Day 3: Hard to believe this improved on day 3 considering its age but it did. Black olives, exotic spices, roasted meats, black pepper, rose petals, pepper corn, earth and blueberries and sour cherry. Long, complex finish over a minute. Certainly, a wine of the year candidate and better than any Syrah I tasted at the Walla Walla Syrah Festival this past summer. 96 points
    Recommendation: This wine is off the charts and for the $75 I paid with shipping I am thrilled I have one more. Drink through 2030. (96 points)


I agree with you that St. Joseph and Crozes are the only reasonably affordable N. Rhone’s (barely), but I can still get a lot of quality St. Joseph for under $50. Domaine Faury, Yves Cuilleron, Coursodon, Domaine du Tunnel. I’m sure these wont be under $50 for long though. For now I am stocking up.