A few weeks ago I exchanged a few comments with Alder at Vinography about French wine. My studies in finance have instilled a deep sense of 'reversion to the mean', and it is my contention that just as the wine media and blogosphere are together predicting the 'death' of French wine, we are actually seeing the start of a French renaissance.
Of course, the French wine doomsayers never really referred to the First Growth Bordeaux or Premier Cru Burgundies, but the 'Vin de Table' - the sea of inexpensive, and largely forgetable, jug wine. With the wine world chugging Yellow Tail by the gallon, the French have had two choices - uproot the vines or compete. Hence the introduction of Fat Bastard, Red Bicyclette and the like - wines that are heavy on the fruit and oak, and mention the grape on the label.
And so we come to tonight's wine, a simple Vin de Pays (see the Doktor for some recent commentary on VdP). The 2005 Les Jamelles Syrah is a 'Vin de Pay d'Oc'. With its Mediterranean climate and long history with Syrah, how appropriate then that this region should lead the French counter-assault with inexpensive, quaffable Shiraz and Grenache-based wines. This wine was an attractive purple/cherry red, and exhibited a nose far beyond its modest price - spicy, with liquorice, cinnamon, pepper, and tea, enveloped in an earthy, oaky aroma - some blackberry and green pepper as well. On the palate it was light to medium-bodied, smooth and balanced, with big fruit and agreeable tannins. Hearty, interesting, but a short finish - drink now. A perfect after-dinner sipper, it would also make a great party wine. Outstanding at this price, I think the French have learned their lesson, Oz. Even more amazing, only 13% alcohol. Well done.
Price: C$12.45 (SAQ)
My wife raved about Les Jamelles before she saw the price, so it was good fortune that I happened upon this wine tonight. I have had the Les Jamelles Sauvignon Blanc and it was such a nice value that I thought I'd give the Syrah a try. Remember the name - I have seen it on a few restaurant lists.