The Chameleon of Wine
SOME WINE GRAPES, like pinot noir, are finicky—they demand the perfect growing conditions. Others, like syrah, will take on whatever the weather brings, always capable of producing a friendly, easy-drinking wine. Syrah is now made in the warm and moderate regions of Southern Oregon and Central California, and in the cool Willamette Valley. The warmer regions result in a slightly “hotter” wine (more alcohol), with more ripe fruit flavors, while the cooler regions produce a tart edge, with the ability to age more gracefully over time in the bottle. All are deeply colored, with dark blackberry flavors and a beefy texture defined by mouth-filling, slightly astringent tannins. These four will make fine additions to your cellar:
2008 Cowhorn Vineyards Syrah 74, Applegate Valley $35
Classy, finely grained textures mix with dark cherry and ripe fruit flavors in this biodynamic wine. Pair with braised short ribs.
2008 Abacela Estate Syrah, Umpqua Valley $30
This age-worthy bottle offers polished textures and plush blackberry flavors for a reasonable price. Pair with grilled bone-in pork chop.
2009 Treana Red Syrah–Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, Paso Robles $35
Fleshy, exotic, ripe, and dark fruit flavors are on display in this crowd-pleasing wine from the up-and-coming California wine region. Pair with a gourmet hamburger.
2009 Cristom Vineyards Estate Syrah, Eola–Amity Hills $30
Like all of Cristom’s wines, its syrah has a bit of an “edge”—less muscular than warm-weather syrah but still heavy on the tannins. Pair with a charcuterie plate.