Day 2 – 12 days of Wine – Shiraz or Syrah from Australia
Snake + Herring 2019 ‘Redemption’ Syrah, Great Southern, Western Australia
Australia brings to mind visions of kangaroos and koala bears and the wild Outback. Perhaps Drag Queens if you remember “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” as I do.
This country down under, in the Southern Hemisphere, is almost as large as the US. With that size comes dramatically different landscapes and climates. From The Great Barrier Reef to Alice Rock, the Blue Mountains to the stunning beaches of Perth, there is quite a bit to cover. We spent two weeks there in 2019 and only had time to explore New South Wales, the region around Sydney.
All these areas with different climates mean that you have a wide range of grapes that will grow, and so they do. But when you think of Australian wine, I am sure the first thing that comes to mind is Shiraz.
Shiraz is really Syrah
There are many ideas of how Syrah in Australia came to be known as Shiraz. There is a story of a Persian link that says that the Rhône Valley’s Syrahs originally came from a cutting from Shiraz in Persia.
Then there is the fact that Aussies love to create new nicknames for things. We are all familiar with “barbies” for barbeques, but then there you have “shark biscuits” for kids at the beach. So Shiraz for Syrah, I suppose, is not so surprising.
What can be surprising is how this grape is so different here! The wine is typically very fruit forward and bold! But the climate and styles can be as diverse as the landscape and the people. So you may find big, bold Shiraz or more elegant styles that may even call themselves Syrah.
Some of the aromas and flavors you might find include berries, spice, tobacco, eucalyptus, anise or fennel, licorice, mint, and graphite.
Snake + Herring
Founded by two wine guys, Redmond “Herring” Sweeny and Tony “Snake” Davis, Snake + Herring create wines from Western Australia. They like to take the road less traveled with unconventional wines.
Snake + Herring 2019 ‘Redemption’ Syrah
When we say the road less traveled for this wine, well, it’s Australian, and they have chosen to call this Syrah, not Shiraz, although I think this depends on the vintage.
Grapes for this wine come from the Great Southern region of Australia. This region sits on the Southern Coast of Australia on the Southern Ocean. This is the coolest wine region in Western Australia.
Snake & Herring pull from 3 of the 5 subregions in the Great Southern to make this wine. Mount Barker is the primary vineyard for this wine, with additional fruit from Frankland River and a little bit of Porongurup.
The grapes are fermented with wild yeasts with part of this whole-cluster Carbonic Maceration (think Beaujolais Nouveau, this will make for a fresh, bright wine). When blended with the other fruit and then aged for 13 months in puncheons (21% new oak), this cool climate wine is nuanced and elegant.
It is fruit forward, likely from that carbonic macerated portion, but then the nose has notes of eucalyptus, straw, red fruit, and savory spices. The wine has great texture and an umami note that makes me think of bacon. In my mouth, it’s dry with notes of mint, cherry syrup, blackberries, and blueberries. Michael was reminded of Welches grape jelly, which inspired our pairing.
This wine is part of ‘The Safari’ series, which looks to represent the best varieties from the region.
13.5% abv $27.99 Total Wine $ 24.99 Vivino
Why we picked this wine
Sustainability is important to Snake and Herring. Grapes are picked by hand, fermented with indigenous yeast, and made with minimal intervention. In the vineyard, they work with growers using sustainable practices, leaning to less tilling, avoiding herbicides and insecticides, and building soil structure. Some of their growers are certified organic and biodynamic.
The Winery partners with a charity, Stitch in Time, an organization to promote mental health and well-being.
These guys are into music, so the wines are named after songs. This one is called ‘Redemption’…I hope you have some Bob Marley in your head now.
Perhaps the name also refers to a bit of redemption from the great big overblown Shiraz that some of Australia’s “BIG” producers are putting out.
This wine is definitely Syrah. It is nuanced and lighter in alcohol (13.5%)
PB&J brings back fond childhood memories for many of us. Somehow we don’t often indulge in good old Peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches as adults.
This fun take on a PB&J is delicious and great to pair with a Syrah or Shiraz. The grape jelly and thyme, pull out the fruit and dried herb notes in the wine and bacon, well it is always perfect with this wine! The peanut butter adds this delicious umami note.
This one is bound to bring a smile.
Check out our book series, “Tempting Spoonfuls,” available through Amazon!
Inspired by the flavors and aromas in wines, this book creates “tempting spoonfuls” of flavors to pair with wines.
Robin has always had a love for spoons, with a drawer full of them in all different shapes and sizes. There is comfort in eating something from a spoon and something very sensual also.
Creating a spoon filled with flavors and aromas that will be eaten in a single bite, allowing the flavors to meld and pop in your mouth, is a joyful endeavor, and you are encouraged to make these your own.
The spoons range from savory to sweet, with something for everyone, and while they are paired with wines, they are delicious on their own.
These recipes are wonderful for appetizers and hors d’oeuvres or simple to create something delicious to spoil yourself, much like a pint of ice cream.
Each of these spoons is paired with a specific wine, and you get a bit of background on the wine, its flavors, aromas, and a bit of its story. She also includes other suggestions for wines to pair with the spoon.
The book is a feast for your eyes, with photos of each layered spoonful.
There are also photos of the wines with the elements of their flavor profile surrounding them. Those elements often inspire the pairing.
The goal is to make your mouth water and encourage you to create your own “Tempting Spoonfuls.”
“Tempting Spoonfuls – Pairing single bites with glorious wines” – Our first book paired wines from boutique wineries on the west coast, in California, Oregon, and Washington, with delicious spoonfuls.
This book is 60 pages, 18 recipes, lots of beautiful photos, and insights into some wonderful small wineries!
“Tempting Spoonfuls – small bites paired with wines from around the Globe” – This book takes us around the globe to explore 12 wine regions, a wine from the region, and then gives you a recipe for a pairing!
A slightly larger book at 104 pages, this time you learn about pairing with a type of wine from a region. Rather than a specific bottle, you can look for a style of wine from a region and feel confident that it will go well with the recipe pairing we provide. We give you 12 recipes, each to pair with a wine.
Either of these books gives you wonderful recipes to create appetizer spoons to pair with wines for a party!
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine and WSET 3 Certified. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.