September 06, 2008

1999 Shubert Syrah New Zealand

Tonight, with homemade pizza, I opened a bottle of 1999 Shubert Syrah from New Zealand. I'd seen this bottle languishing on a local store's shelf for a while. Then it hit the bargain bin and I grabbed one.

Reading through the Auswine forum, which is a great resource for all things down under, I learned that this producer is well regarded for pinot noir as well as syrah. Tasting this wine, it feels like a pinot producer's syrah. All fragrance and texture, without the meat or structure you might expect from the northern Rhone's signature grape.

This Shubert wine is sourced from three different regions, Gimblett Road, Hawkes Bay and Martinborough. It's dark crimson in color with a hint of maturity. The aroma reminds me of filling a new French oak barrel with wine, which isn't a subtle fragrance but can be extremely pleasing.

Time has allowed the barrel aromas to meld with pie cherry fruit and toasty, earthy notes. From the smell, I might expect this to be extremely wooden and tannic in the mouth. Instead, this has pinot's silky texture with fine but unobstrusive tannin.

Cornas this isn't. But fragrant, silky new world syrah this is, accented but not overwhelmed by its barrel ageing. There's no need to hold this wine furthe. But at nearly ten years old it's delicious and a testament to what New Zealand can produce, beyond the usual sauvignon blanc, Bordeaux blend reds and pinot noir.

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