When I first started drinking wine with my friend Dionne, I noticed that she loved reds and I sought out to impress her with my selections. She made it very apparent from the beginning that she was not a fan of Shiraz(sidenote: Shiraz in Australia/South Africa is the same as Syrah from California, Chile, France, etc.). Having been a part of Regal for a year and a half and tasting multiple varietals from many different locations, I am not convinced that someone who appreciates wine can be against an entire varietal. My opinion is they just haven’t experienced the right style for their palate. So began my quest to find a wine that had this infamous grape in it. She clearly did not like the big, bold, thick flavors of Australia. Some of her favorite reds include Argentinean Malbec, Chianti Classico, Sicilian blends, and Tempranillos from Spain. For those that enjoy these medium bodied wines with rich red fruit, spice, and subtle oak, I also suggest the wines from the Rhone Valley in France.
The Rhone Valley is the home to many of France’s best values as well as some of the most elegant and expensive in the country. Syrah is king in the north and Grenache is queen in the south. While the northern reds primarily produce from Syrah, southern reds can be a blend of up to twelve varietals but mostly Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignan. The intense heat in the south causes these grapes to form characters that are better off when combined together. Karen O’Neil, writer of The Wine Bible, states this phenomenon perfectly, “Blending is a way of creating a whole wine that is more than the sum of its parts.” Spicy and berry flavored Grenache enhances flavor but where it lacks in color, Syrah comes to the rescue and adds a nice finish to the wine. French labels are unfortunately notorious for creating confusion for the consumer. If this style sounds like your cup of tea, simply look at the label above and look for a Cote-du-Rhone wine for a great value or a Chateauneuf-du-Pape for a step up.
Within out portfolio of wine, Chateau Beauchene creates both and they are truly delightful. The Ch. Beauchene Cote-du-Rhone Grande Reserve may be the best French value we carry. The wine consists of 60% Grenache, 27% Syrah, 10% Carignan, and 3% Cinsault. The wine is rich in flavors of dark cherry and dried thyme and the spicy finish that the Syrah creates is unmistakeably elegant. I of course had my friend swirl her glass to look at the rich color and had her concentrate on the finish. The result? She loved the wine and has since given the Syrah grape more credit than before.
Food pairings: Considering the wine is grown in a Mediterranean climate, I recommend food that matches this style. Salmon and Greek salad come to mind as a perfect pairing; however, chicken, pork, and tomato based sauces would be tasty as well.
Salmon alongside Greek Salad
-garlic salt & pepper
-squeeze of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp butter
-Romaine lettuce chopped
-Asparagus, ends trimmed, chopped into 3 chunks(saute beforehand and refrigerate)
-Canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- Grape tomatoes
-Pitted black olives
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar
- Dash of honey
-Salt & Pepper
Season salmon and saute in pan of butter over medium heat for a few minutes on each side. Squeeze lemon on in last few minutes of cooking. Set aside
In large bowl whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, thyme, salt and pepper. Add all other salad ingredients and cover with dressing. Serve with salmon.