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Chateau Maris Natural Selection Syrah La Linviniere Minervois 2012
To craft wines that reveal the true character of the land, Château Maris strictly adheres to biodynamics, which is in effect a supercharged system of organic farming. Similar to organic farming, biodynamics adopts a holistic approach that views the entire vineyard as a living system that is impacted by its surroundings. Biodynamics seeks to encourage vitality in the vineyard by introducing live matter into the soil through intensive composting. In addition, biodynamics places a strong emphasis on harnessing naturally occurring cycles.
Recognized for its concentrated and sultry reds made predominantly of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah, this western Languedoc appellation is also famous for the charming and delicate fortified Vin Doux Naturel called Muscat de St. Jean de Minervois. The dry rosé and white wines of Minervois are also worth seeking out.
Marked by unmistakable aromatics, a savory palate, and an elegant texture, Syrah is capable of producing fascinatingly complex and long-lived wines with a stunning purple hue. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah’s best examples are found in Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. It is also an important component of the GSM blends of the Southern Rhône and beyond, alongside Grenache and Mourvèdre. Both varietal Syrah and GSM blends are common in Australia and California and are gaining popularity in Washington State. In Australia, Syrah is known by the synonym Shiraz, which tends to indicate a bolder, fruit-driven style of wine, and is occasionally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon for added depth and structure.
In the Glass
At its best, Syrah shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper, smoke, and even bacon fat. Many examples from California aim to recreate this savory style, while others focus more on concentrated fruit flavors. In Australia, under the name Shiraz, it shines as that country’s unofficial signature red grape, producing deep, dark, intense, and often jammy reds.
Cool-climate Syrah, with its peppery spices, is a natural match with flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb dishes, where the spice is more about flavor than heat. With Australian Shiraz, grown in warmer regions, heavy meat dishes with abundant protein and fat are a necessity to match the intensity of the wine.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” this synonym for Syrah has been adopted by winemakers throughout the world. If the label says “Shiraz,” you can typically expect a plush, fruity, and potent wine made in the Australian style. New World "Syrah" will generally more closely resemble the French style.