Maker: Chateau Aeronautique, Jackson, Michigan, USA
Grape: Syrah/Shiraz (at least 75%)
Place of origin: Michigan, USA
Price: $25 (Michigan by the Bottle Tasting Room Sipper Club)
Appearance: Deep burgundy.
Nose: Black currant, plum, cedar, white pepper, coriander seed.
Palate: Medium-bodied and medium dry. Fruit of the Forest pie, button mushrooms, clove.
Finish: Tart and oaky, then earthy.
Parting words: Chateau Aeronautique is a part of the cluster of wineries located in and around Jackson, Michigan. Owner/winemaker Lorenzo Lizarralde is known for bold reds and this Syrah is Lorenzo at his best. This wine is bold but never belligerent. The big, spicy flavors are balanced with fruit and earthiness to make for a very food-friendly, enjoyable wine that’s good to drink right now. Good to visit right now is Chateau Aeronautique’s brand new Irish Hills tasting room in Onsted, Michigan on Pentecost Highway between Sand and Evans lakes, south of US 12! 2013 Chateau Aeronautique Syrah is recommended.
Maker: Domaine Berrien, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA
Place of origin: Domaine Berrien estate, Lake Michigan Shore AVA, Michigan, USA
Price: Forgotten (around $20)
Appearance: Dark ruby.
Nose: Black currant jelly, oak, clove.
Palate: Medium bodied, juicy, tart cherry, then moving to bitter oak.
Finish: Chewy and drying but with a squirt of blackberry juice.
Parting words: Syrah/Shiraz is a grape most closely associated with the Northern Rhone Valley and Australia. Southwest Michigan’s climate is closer to the Northern Rhone’s but the temperature is more extreme on the top and bottom ends, like that of the rest of the northeastern of the US. Domaine Berrien’s Syrah is in the cool climate category, but the high end temps push it toward the fruitier warm climate style.
This is one of the wines that I brought over from old Sipology HQ’s “cellar” in the corner of the laundry room to my current cellar. I’m glad I let it sit as long as I did, because it’s blossomed into a wonderful wine (although it had a good head start). It’s fruity but spicy and structured and goes well with food (like turkey) but just as good without. Syrah isn’t one of Michigan’s marquee grapes, but DB does a wonderful job with it. This is a wine worth seeking out. 2011 Domaine Berrien Syrah is recommended.
Place of origin: Austalia.
Price: $10-$12/3 liter box
Appearance: Dark plum with hardly any legs or necklace.
Nose: Alcohol, mixed berry pie, heavy on the blackberries. A touch of oak.
On the plate: Raspberry jam, toasted oak, black pepper.
Finish: Cherry juice, smoldering hardwood.
Parting words: If I were to taste this wine in a blind tasting, it might not fare well. It’s drinkable enough and fares better with food, but it’s not exactly exciting. It has too much bitterness and is simultaneously a hair too tart. The effect is like eating a slightly burnt fruit pie. But it’s cheap. Really cheap. TJ’s Block Red is recommended.
Maker: R Wines (now bankrupt), location ???, Australia
Region: McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia
Appearance: Very dark purple, nearly black.
Nose: Black currant, concord grape jelly, plum, pecan, nutmeg.
On the palate: Not what I was expecting from a wine with such a typical Shiraz nose. Fairly light. The pecans have come to the fore. Little tannin, but softly sweet like the previous occupant of its barrel. Strawberries, vanilla, black currant, caramel, toffee.
Finish: Sweet and mild. Lingers on the lips like a faint hint of a stolen kiss. Faint barrel notes on the back end.
Parting Words: What makes this wine remarkable is its finish. It is not only finished in a bourbon barrel, but in a barrel out of which had come Pappy Van Winkle 20 y/o bourbon, one of the most expensive and most sought-after bourbons on the market. I had this when it was first released and it was really all over the place. Not a fun drinking experience. Like any true Southern Belle, this wine has aged gracefully. The flavors are much more integrated and she has grown into a refined, sophisticated lady.
Southern Belle is gone from the store shelves, but bottles can still be found in private cellars if one asks around. A delight from top to luscious bottom, Southern Belle Shiraz is highly recommended.
Thanks to Oscar for cracking his open and getting me a sample.
Region: Mendocino Valley AVA, California, USA
Notes: Certified organic, single vineyard.
Appearance: Deep purple.
Nose: wild blackberries, black currant, hint of leather
On the palate: Medium-bodied. Mixed berry jam, blueberries, chewy, some tannin.
Finish: Jammy then dry, much more tannic than on the palate, lingers for a while then fades rather quickly.
Parting words: Trader Joe’s Reserve wines are never bad, but they can occasionally be dull. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this one dull, but I’ve had more interesting Syrahs. For what it is, it delivers. There is lots of varietal character and it did well with corned beef. It would probably pair well with other rich red meats. For the price, it’s a good wine. Trader Joe’s 2007 Reserve Mendocino Syrah is recommended.
Maker: Concha y Toro
Region: Central Valley, Chile
Color: Like Richie Blackmore early in his career: Deep Purple. Good legs too.
Nose: Blackberry jam, black currant with a slight mustiness. Oak perhaps?
On the palate: shockingly light. Could there be a touch of Grenache in the mix? That same mustiness detected in the nose comes up in the palate, but takes the form of a pleasant tannic dryness.
Finish: Light, sweet finish. Lingers in the cheeks like a well-made lollipop.
Parting words: Not like a New World Shiraz hardly at all. It’s closer to a fine Rhone wine, maybe a Chateauneuf-de-pape or a more generic
cote-de-rhone. Worth picking up, even if a later vintage.