Fat Bastard Syrah 2017
A perfect match with red meat, lamb, spicy foods and full-bodied cheeses.
Good friends Tierry (renowned French winemaker) and Guy (British wine industry rebel) created FAT bastard almost by accident. It started out as an experiment Thierry had going in the back of his cellar, leaving a barrel “on the lees” (yeast cells). He didn’t know what to expect, but when he and Guy tried the wine, Thierry exclaimed, with a strong French accent, ”Now zat iz what you call eh Phet bast-ard!” This very British expression perfectly described the wine’s wonderful color and round, rich palate, so that’s what they named it. In 1991, Véronique Torcolacci obtained her degree in oenology from the University of Toulouse. She joined Gabriel Meffre as oenologist in charge of quality before becoming head winemaker. Produced in partnership with Gabriel Meffre and crafted from the low-yielding vineyards of the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, the wine is remarkably full bodied with a vibrant, fruit-forward style. It is no wonder that Time magazine has referred to FAT bastard as, “Wine for the anti-snob.” When crafting FAT bastard, the objective of Véronique and her team remains the same: never make the slightest compromise on quality. With this in mind, she regularly visits the Languedoc vineyards, meeting with the winegrowers and seeking out wines that satisfy her rigorous demands.
As someone who feels strongly about protecting the environment, Véronique raises the issue of sustainable development with winegrowers and always strives to respect the land and the grape varieties as much as possible during the winemaking process. Commitment and passion are the driving forces that have enabled her to rise to this challenge for the past 20 years. Thanks to her unique knowledge, she has obtained more than 100 medals, several 4- and 5-star ratings, and special mentions for her wines in all the major wine competitions and top wine magazines. Her skills have also made her a name throughout the profession, particularly in the area of wine bottle capping and corking.
An extensive appellation producing a diverse selection of good-quality and value-priced wines, Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the world’s largest wine-producing region, spanning the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border to Rhône. Languedoc forms the eastern half of the larger appellation, while Roussillon is in the west; the two actually have quite distinct personalities but are typically grouped together. Languedoc’s terrain is generally flat coastal plains, with a warm Mediterranean climate and a frequent risk of drought. Roussillon, on the other hand, is defined by the rugged Pyrenees mountains and near-constant sunshine.
Virtually every style of wine is made in this expansive region. Dry wines are often blends, and varietal choice is strongly influenced by the neighboring Rhône Valley. For reds and rosés, the primary grapes include Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. White varieties include Grenache Blanc, Muscat, Ugni Blanc, Vermentino, Maccabéo, Clairette, Piquepoul and Bourbelenc.
International varieties are also planted in large numbers here, in particular Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In Roussillon, excellent sweet wines are made from Muscat and Grenache in Rivesaltes, Banyuls and Maury. The key region for sparkling wines here is Limoux, where Blanquette de Limoux is believed to have been the first sparkling wine made in France, even before Champagne. Crémant de Limoux is produced in a more modern style.
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.