Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

By Aaron Winsor

Hello Prince Albert! In the wine world, there are certain grape varietals that are grown in multiple wine regions which sometimes have different names. Even though these grapes are the same varietal, they can often have incredibly different flavor profiles. Examples of these grapes are often called synonyms.

For example, Chianti is often known as a synonym for the Sangiovese grape while Mouvedre and Mataro are synonyms for Monastrell from Spain. There are literally hundreds of examples of this but two of the most commonly found grape synonyms are Shiraz and Syrah.

Despite the difference in name, the flavors found in these wines can be quite contrasting. Syrah is often associated with old world flavors which focus on earthy tones, spice and barrel character. Old world wines tend to be more age-worthy and there is usually less emphasis on fruit.

Shiraz on the other hand, swings in the new world direction with the fruit flavors being the main focus of the wine and the barrel or earthy flavors used as a background component. Both the new world and old-world wines share similar flavor attributes like dark fruit and pepper but it is the specific way in which these flavors are expressed that decides which style they fall into.

Both styles of wine have their charms and unique characteristics and the drinker’s personal preference of either new or old-world wines can help them decide which they will likely choose.

A wine drinker’s choice of food can also help guide them to the wine style they will enjoy most. Those who enjoy earthy or bitter flavors like dark-roasted coffee, olives or earthy cheese will likely enjoy Syrah. If bitterness is not your style, then you might enjoy juicy cherries, blackberry jam or fruit smoothies. In this case, Shiraz is a better option for you.

With all of this being said, the two styles can sometimes be interchangeable with Syrah employing the use of fruity flavors or Shiraz delving into heavier barrel flavors and earthy tones.

The two wines this week follow the traditional rules of Shiraz vs. Syrah with the Perbruno being earthy and savory and the En Soleil Shiraz dipping into those dark fruit and jammy flavors. Both wines are at an incredible discount right now and I found the Perbruno for $25 (regular $60) and the En Soleil for $26 (regular $50).

Out of both wines, I enjoyed the Perbruno most. It is rich and powerful with tight tannins and a smoky, savory character suited to my tastes. The Perbruno has a decent amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottle so decanting is recommended before consumption.

The En Soleil is still worth a look as it presents plenty of smooth, juicy fruit and enough tannins and acidity to keep the wine structured and balanced. This wine is for those who enjoy juicier, fruitier flavors and don’t enjoy the bitterness as much.

There are so many great Shiraz or Syrah wines to explore out there so grab one of each and put them head-to-head! You may discover a preference you never knew you had. Here are my wine picks of the week!

I Giusti & Zanza Perbruno 2016: (IGT Tuscany, Italy). Dry red, deep purple/violet color. The nose of this super Tuscan is intense and savory with smoky beef jerky notes, black currants, plums, black grapes, earth and smoky leather. Full-bodied on the palate with a rush of intense dark fruit flavors quickly followed up by assertive black pepper and smoky spice (Montreal steak spice). Plums, blackberries, earthy chocolate and saline rock mineral hit the tastebuds with excellent concentration. A gamey and vinous note on at the end of the mid-palate transitions into lingering pepper and umami flavors (smoked meats) combined with wild black fruits. High, grippy tannins and medium-plus acidity. Long finish. Beautiful wine to be paired with roast lamb, prime rib (with liberal amounts of salt and pepper) or bison burgers. Outstanding! $25, 14% ABV

Cape Jaffa En Soleil 2016: (Wrattonbully, Australia). Off-dry red, deep purple color. The wine opens with high-intensity fruit-forward scents of red/dark grapes, cranberry, grape bubblegum, sweet black licorice and dark cherries with a hint of caramel. On the palate, dark fruits burst forward with a full body. Black cherry, juicy plums, blackberry jam and a follow-up of smooth pepper all impact with high intensity. The tannins are high but jammy which rounds them out a bit. Medium-plus acidity adds balance to this fruity wine. Some delicious flavors of toasted oak, black fruit and pepper with a touch of sweet liciorice are the highlights on the finish. Fruity and satisfying. Pair with steak, salt & pepper ribs or sauced ribs. Very good! $26, 14.5% ABV   Cheers and thanks for reading!