The World of Syrah is taking place June 19-21 in Walla Walla, Washington. With over sixty wineries putting their best Syrah foot forward it might be a good time to find out what the hell the hubbub is all about. Is Washington, specifically Walla Walla Syrah all that? You bet your ass it is! The World of Syrah event offers an opportunity to experience the rich history of Walla Walla’s wine region and taste the most Walla Walla Syrah you will ever have the opportunity to taste in one place ever…no, really I am not kidding. Commit to having an excellent time in Walla Walla by purchasing tickets here.
The rest of this article is just a rant about the awesomeness of Syrah. Matt Kramer penned an article about Syrah in this month’s issue of the Wine Spectator explaining why American Syrah did not live up to the prediction he made in 2003 about Syrah being the next big thing. Most of the article has nothing to do with Washington Syrah. Matt does acquiesce to his miscalculation stating “I was so right, Yet so wrong” his aptly described title to the aforementioned article.
So why didn’t Syrah become the next big thing? Now that I am straying off the path, let’s just go on down that road. But do not forget to get on the road to Walla Walla June 19-21. What happened is just like what’s going on in almost any other area of society; fashion won over substance. Syrah is substantial, while Pinot noir is fashionable. The numbers do not lie as Mr. Kramer pointed out in his article. In America, it has become more fashionable to drink Pinot noir in the past ten years. New plantings of the two varietals certainly reflect the demand. In 2003 total acreage of Syrah in California stood at 16,000 acres and now it has only increased to 19,000 Washington now has 3100 acres of Syrah under vine bringing the total of Syrah to a little over 22,000. In Oregon, we have 15,000 acres of Pinot noir growing (that number increases on a daily basis) adding to California’s 41,000 making the total Pinot noir being produced in California and Oregon a whopping 56,000 acres. Demand and supply, it’s all about logistics and well in this case a little fashion too.
Good Syrah has been my go to red since I was a kid. In the early days, it was mostly Cote Du Rhone; one nice feature of this variety is there is a bottle for anybody’s budget. On the other end of the Syrah spectrum, there are complex wines of sophistication and elegance. There are no better values than high end Syrah, and oh yeah, those will age gracefully for decades.
Yes, all the pretty nuances of Pinot noir are nice and there is certainly something to say about the complex seductiveness Pinot noir brings to the table. First, let the wine take the leading role, the cuisine should be playing a supporting role by keeping it clean and simple. If you want to serve richly decadent complex cuisine, well you need a Syrah. Broad shouldered substantial wine is what complex cuisine cries out for. Syrah will lift the sophisticated flavors and cleanse the palate for the next bite an elegant, powerful workhorse of a wine. Taking a supporting role and letting the cuisine be the star, is a natural task for such an extraordinary player and Syrah will shine like the star it is.
Take my advice about going to the Walla Walla wine event “The World of Syrah” it will be the tastiest educational opportunity you’ve sipped in a while. There are so many spectacular events it will be hard to choose which ones to miss.