Just a note, if you are easily offended, you might consider skipping this one. This is an innuendo-heavy post.
We all have our own things that turn us on. Some guys are leg guys, and some are ass guys. Me, I’m a Syrah guy. Okay, so Syrah and Pinot Noir, but my Pinot fixation is a topic for another day. There is something about Syrah that strikes at the most primal part of my nature. My method for judging Syrah is a simple one, I just wait to see how long my erection lasts after I smell the wine.
When I first decided to move from my home in West Texas, my Syrah fetish might have been a big factor in choosing Washington as my new home. Prior to the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference, I had heard reports on Twitter of how great Washington Syrah was from my friends Josh Wade and Clive Pursehouse, so I was already looking forward to getting my Syrah freak on before I hit the ground. I pretty much spent the whole trip channeling the Ken Marino character Louie (from The State), announcing that “I want to dip my balls in it!” There is definitely a lot of fantastic Syrah in Washington, but not all Syrah is created equal.
Time has a way of refining obsession. While I started my love affair with Syrah early on, over time I started to realize that there were some very specific versions of Syrah that really got me going. Syrah is a variety that can vary wildly in its expression. In a recent Twitter conversation with Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand Cellars (@SofHCellars), we discussed the fact that this could possibly be one of the factors that has damaged the market for Syrah. People might have been turned off by a specific style of Syrah (often Aussie Shiraz is credited for this), or they might just have a problem with the inconsistency of the wines that they taste over time.
For me, the nose of Syrah is a big factor on whether it meets my priapism test. I am always on the hunt for an earthy, meaty Syrah that is not over the top on the jam and alcohol. I recently received a sample from my friend Tamara Belgard at Cana’s Feast Winery in Carlton, Oregon that hit on these notes perfectly. The 2008 Syrah is produced from fruit from Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills AVA. I brought a second bottle to our local Brown Bag Wine Night blind tasting, and even blind I ended up picking it as one of my favorites. The dark fruit, savory meat components, and herbal notes on the wine hit on exactly the notes that I have come to love in a Syrah. The other wine that stood out at that tasting was the 2008 Columbia Valley Syrah from Market Vineyards. I tweeted that “I would make sweet, passionate love to wine number 23.” There is something slightly funky about my favorite Syrah, which means that the wines tend to be very polarizing. The Market Vineyards Syrah seemed to either be a favorite or a least favorite at the tasting. It did turn out to be one of the top wines of the night when the votes were counted though.
Syrah can be one of the most elegant and sexy grapes on the planet. It can also be a bombastic fruit avalanche that leaves you desperate for escape. All of these expressions of the grape make me think of my relationships with various women over the years. Maybe this is why I am so attracted to the variety. The desire to anthropomorphize manifests itself with Syrah in a way that few other varieties can. I find Syrah to be deep with personality and character, with each example having its own unique expression. It does have typicity, but is heavily influenced by the climate of the vineyards it was grown in, and also to the caprices of the winemaker. It is always interesting, and when it is done right it makes me want to dip my balls in it.