Que Syrah, Syrah!


Rosé wines can be made from several different grape varieties, but rosé made from Syrah grapes can often be the lightest, fruitiest and freshest. It’s odd really when you think about it, because red Syrah is often a big and beefy wine. So, why the paradox? Well, the juice that’s pressed out of red grapes is actually colourless.

The colour – and much of the wine’s taste and character – comes from the grape skins and stalks. When rosé wines are made, the wine-makers only allow the skins a very short contact time with the grape juice and sometimes only a small proportion of it. The contact time can vary between a couple of hours or several days. As a result, very little of the red colour – and the taste – gets into the wine.

Rosé wines are some of most versatile wines around and they can make a refreshing accompaniment to many kinds of food. A cold, fresh, dry rosé will enhance even a simple ham, chicken or roast-beef sandwich and it’s the perfect barbecue wine to drink with mundane things like hamburgers, hot dogs and french-fries.  Rosés go well with many vegetarian and Asian dishes too. Beware of American rosés (sometimes called “blush” wines) which are sometimes very sweet and about as interesting as a lollipop.

Santa Loreto Rosé Syrah 2011, Chile (Villa Bt. 349)

This excellent wine comes from the well-known Chilean company, Bodegas y Viñedos De Aguirre, located in the picturesque Villa Alegre Village in the Maule Valley.

Claudio Gonçalves, Winemaker at Bodegas y Viñedos De Aguirre Claudio Gonçalves, Winemaker at Bodegas y Viñedos De Aguirre

The company also makes brands like Sol de Chile and Alma de Chile and it has won many international awards. Their vineyards are 320 feet above sea level and lie just 60 miles from the Pacific Ocean. To preserve the freshness, the grapes were harvested by hand early in the morning.

The wine looks lovely in the glass: a vibrant cherry-pink with orange flecks and the sweet scent of red fruits, strawberries and cherries. There’s also that dash of peppery spiciness which often comes with a Syrah. This Chilean rosé is a bit more full-bodied than its French cousin and although the fruit is well forward, the mouth-feel quite assertive with an attractive tang of acidity. You might pick up dry herbs on the taste. There’s a very long, dry fresh finish with just a gentle hint of tannin.

If you’ve tended to avoid rosés on the grounds that they lack flavour and character, this dry and gently assertive wine (it’s 13.5% alcohol) may be much more to your liking.

Les Garrigues Rosé Syrah, 2010, France (Wine Connection Bt. 449)

This wine is named after the garrigue; that aromatic Mediterranean landscape rich with the scent of thyme, rosemary, lavender and juniper. This lovely wine is made from grapes grown in small vineyards dotted around the hills of the 2,700 feet high Mont Tauch in the Languedoc region of Southern France.  Mont Tauch is also the name of one of France’s leading cooperatives and the mountain towers above the cooperative’s state-of-the-art winery in the village of Tuchan.

This wine is a beautiful orangey-pink colour with a delightfully fresh, floral aroma and the scent of red fruit. There are grassy hints of raspberry and redcurrants too. The taste is sumptuously fruity with a very soft mouth-feel and hardly any tannin.  It’s very supple and light bodied, with a fruity dry finish. The wine is perfectly dry, but the fruit on the taste gives a sense of sweetness.

The makers suggest that you could drink it “with spicy dishes, barbecues or summer salads” but it’s lovely just to drink on its own, despite the 13% alcohol content.  It would make a delightful apéritif. The label recommends that you serve it about 8°-10°C but honestly, I’d suggest that you serve it even colder at refrigerator temperature (that’s about 4°C) so that the aromas and flavour develop in the glass as the wine warms up, which in this climate they will do all too quickly.

The wine feels fresh, light and young; just like I used to be in the days when Doris Day was singing that famous song back in the old days.