Hey Syrah…Syrah? 06/10/11

Hey folks! It’s been a while; this I know. I would apologize for my untimely absence, but I’ve actually been working on a super-secret project that, Bacchus-willing, may not remain super-secret much longer – and don’t worry, this project is very related to wine. For the moment, however, you can relax, because right now I’m back to my old, bloggy self, and you can bet I’ve got a damn fascinating bottle to discuss.


Not quite this four-dimensional though.

If you’ve been keeping up with the various debates which litter the wine world, which I’m willing to bet most of you haven’t been, you might have seen an article published in Decanter magazine that draws attention to a so-called “identity crisis” afflicting Syrah. It suggests that excessive planting in California and Australia has resulted in too many poor quality wines, which have led to a widespread lack of consumer interest in the grape.

But do I agree with this sentiment? After weeks of arduous, painstaking research, I’ve concluded that I don’t even care enough to form an opinion. No, instead I’m going to talk about a much more interesting Syrah identity crisis: the Babcock Winery 2008 “Identity Crisis” White Syrah. Yes, you read that correctly. White Syrah. I’ll give you a moment.



It’s not unheard of for grapes that would typically make a red to be released in other forms; rosé wines, for instance, are commonly made from red wine grapes (such as Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc) that have undergone only brief contact with their skins during fermentation. White wines, on the other hand, are denied skin contact entirely, and while they too can be produced from red grapes rather easily (Pinot Noir is, again, a popular choice), most – like Syrah – would rather be caught dead than stripped of their beautiful tannins, presented naked before the greedy, licentious masses.

Or so I thought.


In the glass this poured a lovely orange-amber color, reminiscent of the 2003 Gewurztraminer I’d tried at Sand Castle Winery back in January – a rare tint for a white wine, especially one a mere three years old. The nose gave off aromas of lychee (also similar to Gewurztraminer) and cantaloupe – a flavor I’ve come to expect more from rosé than either red or white. Clearly this was a wine that plays by its own rules, refusing to be categorized.

The palate of this strange Syrah presented notes of white peach and pepper. In time, notes of strawberry emerged, which I must admit I wasn’t really expecting, based on the color; but there’s that rebelliousness again. A bit sweet on the attack, the wine gave way to spicy notes and had a fuller body than most whites, with nice balance. The more it breathed, the more strawberry-y it became.

I award the Babcock Identity Crisis White Syrah thumbs up, and wish it the best of luck finding itself.

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