Chateau Maris Syrah La Touge 2004
Chateau Maris is the vision of Englishman Robert Eden, who emigrated to France over 20 years ago to pursue his dream of crafting wines that reflect, rather than mask the land on which the grapes are grown. Robert's approach to winemaking is based on the fundamental premise that wine is "grown", not "made".
To craft wines that reveal the true character of the land, Chateau 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 an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.
Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.
In the Glass
Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.
Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.
Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.