Que Syrah Shiraz: 1998 Clos du Bois "Alexander Valley Reserve" Shiraz
by Jonathon Alsop
Among all the things that make California wines so great -- from the incredible ripeness of the fruit to the uninhibited use (over-use?) of oak fermenting and aging -- the best thing is the winemakers' eternal and unabashed pursuit of The Next Big Thing. While other parts of the planet spend their centuries exploring and perfecting the specific local traditions they're blessed with, California embraces what works and what sells, even -- especially even -- if it's untraditional.
About 15 years ago, vineyards began to plant European grape varieties other than the standard chardonnay, cabernet, merlot, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc. Unfamiliar rustic grapes from the French countryside like mourvedre, viognier, and syrah began to appear. Today, California is dabbling in sangiovese (the core grape of Chianti), tempranillo (a major grape of Spanish Rioja wine), and many others.
With the tremendous success of shiraz (syrah) in Australia, it was only a matter of time before the west coast started planting shiraz or re-naming the syrah it already had.
1998 Clos du Bois "Alexander Valley Reserve" Shiraz is a delicious bottle that's about $13 and available almost everywhere. Itís a dense, dark wine with lots of concentrated fruit flavors and a big layer of creamy vanilla and oak. Clos du Bois also makes a more expensive tempranillo that's also very tasty.