Ruby Trust’s “The Gambler” 2012 — 100% Syrah
You pay more, but you get a lot more with this Syrah that has seen spicy new French oak and is both rich and entrancingly complex. Syrah holds rank as one of the most noble red grapes and it is no surprise that the Aussies stole the name of France’s best expression of the grape — Hermitage — as the name of their best expression of this grape. When Syrah is the wine in your glass, you are drinking from a variety that goes back two millenniums and more to ancient Roman times. Although it is intriguing to believe it came from Shiraz, a district in Southern Iran, and that the adopted Australian name (Shiraz) for this grape is a recall of this origin, it simply is not true.
Two French grapes, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche, are its parents and France its place of origin. It can produce some very dense wines if the yield is kept low and you employ one secret: pick it at the right time. Don’t let it hang too long or it can quickly lose its acid backbone, weakening its structure. All the good things in Syrah’s grape skin (anthocyanins) are concentrated in comparison to some other red grapes and as one source notes, as much as 40% more. This should get your attention.
It’s source in France from the Rhone valley will tell you that location is important. Cote Rotie (roasted slope) and Hermitage are the favored sites, with St Joseph at second place and Crozes-Hermitage bringing up a distant rear. Place makes a difference! Compare Australian Shiraz with the northern Rhone Syrah and you might be excused for thinking they are two different grapes. California’s Central Coast, Washington, and many other places around the globe have produced some exciting examples that are more like the French originals, and this wine places Colorado in that impressive lineup.
Syrah, in its early developmental stages, often displays burnt rubber and black pepper aromas, which betray its affinity to oak — especially new French oak. If young, concentrated, and from the right region, it can be too strong for some taster’s preferences, but all this will change with age. This example is a bold, but softened, wine. Ruby Trust’s Syrah, when tasted in its first year from their high quality French oak barrels, can be quite stern and punchy, but the oak will mellow and smooth the wine with more time in barrel. Red and black fruit lie in wait for their debut to emerge with barrel aging and show the future of the wine. A good taster will detect the hidden treasures in a Syrah in its first stage of barrel maturation. But also lying in wait are the meaty, savory features of this serious food wine.
Let me introduce you to an excellent representation of Syrah, Ruby Trust’s The Gambler 2012, which is no gamble. This is a wine with longevity written all over it, so don’t hesitate to lay it down. If you want to drink it now, pair it with a grilled steak or a substantial savory dish. Many cheeses will be glad to play a supporting role to its solid performance. And if you want to know the meaning of structure, this wine has a solid frame to which its more delicate features cling.
Colorado is warm, in fact hot at times, and Syrah seems to love the heat and the soils laced with river rock. My next blog will unravel the pleasures of this wine and what can be done with this noble grape in high altitudes and at the hand of a skilled, experienced winemaker. In the meantime, enjoy.
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You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my books, “Experiencing Colorado Wine, Volume 1 – The Dry Red Wines ” and “Experiencing Colorado Wine, Volume 2 – The Whites and Rosés.” Volume 1 also provides descriptions of the pairing of several Colorado wines with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.
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