Wine of the Week: Robertson Winery’s Shiraz blend
This week we’ll discuss a red wine blend very much like another that I tasted a few years ago — after a 17 1/2 hour non-stop flight! And it was worth it.
Try a new wine this week!
Syrah has long been established as one of the world’s greatest red wine grape varieties. Today it’s grown in just about every country that makes wine. Its dry red wine typically shows a deep dark color and bold, berry-like flavors. And as good as it is alone, some of the world’s most famous red wines are syrah blends.
Like most of the world’s wine grapes, syrah came from France. Along the northern Rhone River the syrah grape reigns, especially for the famous wines Cote-Rotie and Hermitage. Each will often contain a small amount of white wine grapes, but the syrah is so deep in color that it adds complexity without making the wine appreciably lighter.
While Rhones can be quite expensive—there are three single-vineyard Cote-Rotie’s that can retail for well over $150 per bottle—both Cote-Rotie and Hermitage have neighbors that are perhaps less great, but also less expensive. St. Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage are two. Southern Rhones combine syrah with other local varieties like mourvedre, grenache and others. These are called “Rhone Blends”, whether they’re the French originals or grown somewhere else.
And Australia really popularized the syrah grape — which they call shiraz — both on its own and blended with cabernet sauvignon. Rhone blends are also popular there.
Rhone grapes have found a hospitable home in the vineyards of South Africa, where people have been making wines for 300 years. Ocean-cooled breezes, from where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic, flow inland to the vines, much as Pacific breezes do along California’s Central Coast (another great Rhone grape area). Robertson Winery’s Shiraz-Mourvedre-Viognier blend is a good example, with exceptionally deep color, rich, moderately dense dark fruit flavors and a smooth, lingering finish. It retails locally for $10-$12.
At Robertson Winery, vines are planted from NW to SE to allow cooling ocean breezes through the vineyard. This blend is 86% Shiraz (Syrah), 13% Mourvedre, 1% Viognier