The San Francisco Chronicle ran an interesting article by W. Blake Gray on Friday, Turn up the game, grab a burger and bust open Wines for Men. It’s all about Syrah. Gray explains why Syrah, or Shiraz if you prefer, is the ideal Man’s Wine:
It’s Syrah, known as Shiraz in Australia, a real man’s country, where they play football in shorts without helmets or clean-uniformed field goal kickers.
Why Syrah? It’s a man’s wine: big, bold and often high in alcohol (men don’t drink for flavor alone). Syrah sometimes causes pinky-waving wine critics to use descriptors like “raw meat,” “burnt rubber” and “sweat.” Throw in a little gasoline and you’ve got yourself a tractor pull.
Gray covers a wide range of affordable Shirazes and Syrahs, including a couple of boxed products:
Because men don’t like to run dry, the 2005 Banrock Station South Eastern Australia Shiraz ($18 for 3 liters) gives the equivalent of four bottles of wine for the price of two. The bag-in-box system keeps this wine, which tastes of juicy black currant with some allspice, fresh for up to four weeks, though the only way it lasts that long undrunk is if some overly cautious doctor warns you it’ll interfere with your anger-control medication.
Another good bag-in-box value is the 2004 Delicato Family Vineyards California Shiraz ($18 for 3 liters), which has a strong black pepper flavor in addition to blackberries and earth. There’s even a hint in the aroma of hot dogs, that classic food of barbecues, ball games and formal dinner parties (at least the good ones).
We haven’t seen the Banrock Station box wines in our market, though we did review the 2004 Delicato Shiraz, and liked it a lot (“A powerful scent of spicy cherries practically bursts from the wine as you pour it. The flavor is a bit more subtle, tasting of blackberry and cherry. Overall, the flavor is balanced and quite smooth. The finish lingers with a fruity spiciness. The start and finish of this wine are so wonderful that they overshadow its pleasant flavor.”) The Banrock Station Shiraz that we tried was a 2003, and in a bottle; it wasn’t bad.
Naturally, most of the wines in the article are bottles – some that sound interesting are 2004 Night Harvest by R.H. Phillips California Shiraz ($8), McManis Family Vineyards California Syrah ($10), 2003 Bridlewood Central Coast Syrah ($8), 2003 Napa Ridge Napa Valley Syrah ($12). Gray seemed to like Yellow Tail Shiraz a bit more than we did, but we’re looking forward to trying his suggested Smoking Loon Shiraz, as we enjoyed Smoking Loon Merlot quite a bit.
We’re happy to see a media outlet like the Chronicle focusing on the kind of wines that most people are likely to encounter and drink, and look forward to future themed articles like this one.