Yarden Syrah 2007 is a wonderful wine. I guess that it helped that we were drinking it with a wonderful multinational vegetarian dinner of Indian curried quinoa, Mexican pinto beans, Greek tzatziki, and Italian zucchini served on our new wooden garden furniture, under our pergola with its grape vine including grapes hanging down, all up on our rooftop balcony overlooking the valley between our house and the border with Lebanon. And on a cool summer night under a bright full moon to boot. This Syrah from the Yarden series of the Golan Heights Winery was opened and given time to breath while we sipped a bit of the port-style wine from Odem Winery called Shani.
Interestingly, Syrah is often confused with Shiraz, but in fact, these are viticulturally the same grape. It has been grown in the Rhone Valley of France since Roman times. The Aussies took the Syrah to their land down under and jazzed up the name. Italian genetic research actually has determined a kinship between Syrah and Pinot Noir. Shiraz is the most commonly grown variety of grapes as well as most popular and best selling in Australia. There Shiraz is full of rich and ripe fruit and spice flavors. Reference has been made to its New World fruit-forward style. The French Syrah has been said to be less bold but more complex with more tannins and therefore more capable of being aged in your cellar. Jancise Robinson‘s Oxford Companion to Wine states that the “wines taste very different, with Australian versions tasting much sweeter and riper, more suggestive of chocolate than the pepper and spices often associated with Syrah in the Rhône.” the French versions are frequently co-fermented with Viognier. In conclusion, it is the genetically the same grape variety but because of different production methods as well as differences in climatic conditions of growth, there are differences in the characters of these two wines.
Let me tell you, the Yarden Syrah 2007 that we drank last night is a gem in the series of other fine wines of the Yarden group of wines from the Golan Heights Winery. It is deep purple color and has an earthy aroma which has a hint of charcoal. You have to quiet yourself to feel its gentle accents. This full bodied wine has flavors which are subtle and complex with a taste of raisins and cherries. It has minimal tannins and is only slightly astringent. There is a long finish which reminds one of strawberry jam.
I can hardly wait to taste the single vineyard Yarden Syrah wines from Avitral Slopes (formerly part of the Ortal Vineyard) and Yonatan Vineyard. These are about 50% more in price but acclaimed by all who write of them. In the meantime, L’Chaim and B’Tayavon — Cheers and Bon Apetite from israelwinetaster.