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February 26th, 2015

Syrah is the world's fifth most planted grape—quite something, considering that 10 years ago it ranked a lowly 35th, lagging behind such neither well-known nor noble grapes as cayetana blanca and rkatsiteli. But that was then and this is now, and syrah has made the big leagues. It's even a star at the Vancouver International Wine Festival (running until March 1), where more than 170 international versions of syrah (also known as shiraz) are available for sampling on the tasting-room floor. It's a French grape that's travelled the world, even to far-flung locations like the Okanagan Valley. Here are two award-winning syrah's being featured in the festival's grand tasting room—each of them as wonderfully diverse in style and fruit profile and you can get. Try them at home this weekend with lamb shank, braised short ribs, or a great hunk of aged cheese.

 

 

Haywire Syrah 2012

$20.90

Okanagan Valley  +272591

This is a delectable B.C. red: herbal, savoury, earthy, funky, gamey, and every bit as ‘Okanagan' as it is syrah. Everyone is clamouring to get on the cool-climate bandwagon, but it's hard to imagine a fresher, fleshier syrah than this. The peppery, dusty palate suggests mouth-puckering dryness, but a refreshing wave of the Okanagan's telltale acidity (here more tart plum than apple) brings a bright, juicy finish. This wine's undeniable terroir notes are profound, lending serious structure and recognizable identity. And like so many B.C. reds, it likes to be chilled. Pair it with a charcuterie platter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz 2012

$23.99

Australia +428946

 

Launched as a co-operative, this estate's members farm some lovely old-vine fruit throughout the Barossa Valley. (Since its founding, it was half-sold to Hardys, then sold back to the co-op, and recently it's been snapped up by New Zealand giant Delegat.) Massive purity of fruit—ripe but not overripe—is the hallmark of Barossa Valley Estate, and this fine 2012 vintage ratchets up the blueberry flavours and velvety texture. Notes of mint chocolate, a lick of oak, and a juicy aspect (not to mention terrific value) make it complete and irresistible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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