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Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, April 5, 2000



Values on the Vine

Syrah, a noble
grape with a
bold future

Values on the Vine wants your wine picks

SYRAH, traditionally cultivated in France's Rhone Valley, is a red varietal that has seen booming popularity as Shiraz, its Australian incarnation. It is a medium- to full- bodied, dry wine that, as our panelists point out, goes particularly well with grilled and roasted meats. French, Californian and Washington state Syrah and the Shiraz of Australia all are covered in this month's recommendations.

We also are introducing a new feature to Values on the Vine.

In an effort to include a greater diversity of voices from the beverage industry, and a desire to hear from you, our reader, we are launching a "wildcard" recommendation. Each month we will present wine recommended by someone other than our four panelists. We ask contributors to keep in mind the value focus of the column. If you've found a doozy of a deal for around $10 that you want to share, please let us know.


Now on to this month's picks:

Richard Field
Owner of R. Field Wine Co.

If you're looking for upfront, easy to access Syrah that shows immediate ripe-berry fruit flavors ... all at a reasonable price, Kendall-Jackson ($10) makes it. Throw in some complex flavors like spice and earth, slight game and mild truffles with sweet chocolate and take out the toughness and astringency and you have a delicious example of California Syrah. All of this for under $10 a bottle and you have a great bargain to enjoy with steak, roasts or braised beef. No wonder it sells so well.

Lyle Fujioka
Owner of Fujioka's Wine Merchants

Bullet Paringa Shiraz 1999, Australia, $9.95: Australian wine importer Dan Phillips' mission was to develop a winning under $10 Shiraz. Paringa '99 is the result: Bright, jammy aromas of fresh cherries, raspberries and cranberries with an uplift of spice and vanilla are parlayed into straightforward ripe berry flavors that flow across the palate. A treat!

Bullet McDowell Syrah 1998, Mendocino, Calif, $9.95: This supple California-style Syrah offers smooth, plush black cherry and plum fruit; a touch of herbs and sweet oak nuances provide added depth and complexity. A good "training wheel" Syrah, we find ourselves consuming it on a regular basis with burgers and pizzas.

Chuck Furuya
President of Fine Wine Imports

Most wine aficionados will agree Syrah is truly one of the world's noble red grape varieties. Recently, local wine collector Ming Chew gave me a bottle of 1978 Jean Louis Chave Hermitage, which to me is Syrah at its best -- wildly intense, magnificently concentrated, smoky, earthy and layered almost beyond belief. Well heads up! Chave created another gem in 1997 -- one with the same purity and devotion to Syrah -- but a little more toned down, simpler, more accessible and available at one-third the price. The wine is the 1997 St. Joseph "Offerus" by JL Chave ($31.64). Pair with wild game, barbecued and/or roasted meats. Just don't miss out!

Jay Kam
President of Vintage Wine Cellar

Bullet 1996 Guigal Cotes du Rhone, France, ($11.99) is 55 percent Grenache, 25 percent Syrah and 20 percent Mouvedre. By selecting and blending cuvees from more than 40 top growers, Guigal perennially produces one of the best values out of France. Its trademark is soft, vibrant fruit, with a surprising amount of complexity. Perfect for your next trip to Chinatown for roast pork or duck.

Bullet 1998 Hogue Syrah, Washington, ($17.99) will satisfy the forward fruit wine lovers out there. Ripe, rich, decadent and easy to drink, it has the soft, appealing mouthfeel of a Merlot and the bold fruitiness and spiciness of a Zinfandel. Try it with pork chops and grilled onions.

Kimberly Case, sales executive, Tamura's Fine Wine and Liquors

Kimberly Case is a sales executive at Tamura's Fine Wine and Liquors and, according to her boss, she spends a big chunk of her paycheck at the store so she can share her experience with customers. Glenn Tamura of the Tamura supermarket family opened the Kakaako store on Kamani Street a block off of Ward Avenue just four months ago and is already scouting further locations in town. From the store's vast selection, Case offers three recommendations in keeping with the Syrah/Shiraz theme:

Bullet 1998 Deakin Estate Victoria Shiraz ($10.19) has intense plummy flavors with licorice aromas and balanced fruit with pepper and oak notes. Big but elegant, it is excellent with grilled meats.

Bullet 1997 Beckman Vineyards Syrah Santa Barbara County ($16.59) is full, intense and complex. Smokey plum flavors mix with lavender and earthy elements. Full mouthfeel is highlighted by cherry and licorice notes in this well-balanced and rich wine.

Bullet 1997 Kunde Syrah Sonoma Valley ($16.39) is a dense, well-balanced wine. Generous fruit with hints of blackberry, pepper and licorice, it is explosive and succulent with full mouthfeel.

Values on the Vine is published on the last Wednesday of each month. The March column is running this week due to an oversight. We will have another column April 26. Send your wine picks or any other comments to Stephanie Kendrick, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu HI 96802, fax 523-8509 or email

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