Monday, February 20, 2012

Syrah, Part 2: The Schizo

Before getting into this installment, let's review your homework.  How'd you do?  If you completed steps one, two, and three, you did just fine.  A+, congratulations.

Our Australian cousins call it Shiraz.  Be sure to pronounce it the way the locals do: SHE-RAZZ, as in, SHE - the beginning of Sheila, and RAZZ - the beginning of razzle-dazzle.  Yes, both syllables are dominant.  It's Australia, people.

In the dry, hot climate of southern Australia, Shiraz takes on a personality that can be spotted a mile away. Like that one loud mouth who seems to show up at every party, there's nothing subtle about it. Sure, there are more refined and restrained examples as Campbell Mattinson draws focus to in his book, though the stereotype generally holds true. Syrah from Australia tends to be massive, extracted-fruit-forward, chocolatey, dense, candy for adults.

Match up with your notes from homework?

If we can agree on that, let's also agree to call this personality The Rugby Player.  As we'll soon prove through field study, this is but one of Syrah's multi-faceted personalities. 

Clinicians refer to it as Multiple Personality Disorder, but cravat-wearing winos refer to it as the magic of terroir.  (Note: if you have ever used that phrase - or worn a cravat - you are a total dweeb.)  You see, Syrah is indeed a schizo.  And like a brilliant and schizophrenic artist, it'll be years before the world at large realizes Syrah's greatness. With the artist, those years are needed as a buffer to help us forget his foul hygiene and intemperate brooding. Similarly with Syrah, these years are needed to solidify an identity that is as splintered as the artist's. For as great as Syrah is today in all its interpretations, this often joked-of variety is going to require some simplification before the mainstream really acknowledges it. 

More on the topic of simplification another time, though.  For now, back to the schizo.  To help illustrate Syrah's polarities, we move on to homework #2.  Go out and buy yourself another bottle. For this one, we'll move to France. Why France? Because it couldn't be stylistically further from Australia.

Now, for recommendations, this gets a little tricky because the French blend the bejeezus out of their grapes.  Ideally, you'll grab either a Crozes Hermitage or a Cornas - any one will do.  But if you can't find any in your price range, then crab a Cotes du Rhone.  While the typical Cotes du Rhone might only be 50% Syrah, you'll get the idea.  And Layer Cake's Cotes du Rhone is 100% Syrah.

Same instructions apply for this homework assignment:
  1. Pull the cork
  2. Pour into a glass (optional)
  3. Enjoy.
  4. Now answer the following questions (don't worry - you will not be scored on this test):

  • Black or blue?
  • Warm or cold?
  • Rich or bland?
  • Serious or carefree?
  • Hard or soft?
  • Light or heavy?
  • Round or sharp?
  • Fast or slow?
  • Chewy or soft?
  • Earth or fruit?
  • Chocolate or vanilla?
 Cheers

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