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Clos Mimi Syrah Petite Rousse 2002
Tim is the "vigneron" for Clos Mimi. Thanks to his traditional convictions from a previous lifetime, Tim is "très religieux" in his pursuit of natural winegrowing. In 1988, Tim had the good fortune of interning alongside a young Jean-Louis Chave in California. Three years later while spending an entire day hiking the steep vineyards of Hermitage in Jean-Louis' royal company and tasting the unblended and highly spiritual 1990 Chave Hermitage from "barrique," Tim was smitten by Syrah.
The label for Clos Mimi symbolizes everlasting love and commitment. The mark itself intimates a spiritual connection with Burgundy. The "fleur de lys" heralds the Spear Family Coat of Arms described as "argent, a thistle with three heads, stalked and leaved vert, flowered gules." The thistle is the symbol of a noble but humble heart whose honor will be defended with the sword. The color argent (white or silver) denotes peace and sincerity. The color black was borrowed from Coco Chanel (not medieval England) known for her timeless design. According to Chinese "feng shui" the color black represents career and water. The color black is believed to be powerful, thus absorbing other colors. In fact, Pierre-Auguste Renoir called black "the Queen of colors" once upon a time in Paris.
Responsible for the vast majority of American wine production, if California were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine-producing nation. The state’s diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredibly wide-ranging selection of wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. Wineries range from boutique to massive corporations, and price and quality are equally varied—plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Coast area, while Napa is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.
Just about every style of wine you can imagine is made in California, from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. Each AVA and sub-AVA has its own distinct personality. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other Bordeaux varieties dominate, as well as Sauvignon Blanc. Sonoma County is best known for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with Alsatian varieties such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California has to offer, it is certain that any wine lover will find something to get excited about.
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.