Chile has been gaining increasing attention for the wide range of excellent Syrahs it produces, and nowhere is it more evident than at Casas del Bosque Winery in Santa Rosa, Casablanca Valley, about 50 miles west of Santiago. This quality family-owned producer has 245 hectares planted to the likes of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah with a little Merlot and Riesling.
We think of Casablanca as a cool climate region, but in reality, it is quite dry and can become very warm in summer months. In fact, rainfall most often occurs only during the cooler weather months—June through mid-September. Casablanca has less rain than Maipo, and the lack of a river and readily available irrigation water in this region made for slow development as a wine region. Producers like Casas del Bosque now plant Syrah on the best hillside vineyards—and are turning out wine that is truly Syrah rather than Shiraz.
Casas del Bosque Syrah Gran Reserva, 2011 is definitely one to try. This is a 100% Syrah that’s been matured for 12 months in French oak with about half being new oak. The lovely balance of new world purity and ripeness combined with fresh, aromatic, complex characters may make you think you are drinking something more like a Crozes Hermitage than a Chilean new world Syrah.
With an alcohol level at 14%, this is an enticing and lustrous red wine. The nose is very rich, creamily ripe and fruity with pure cassis, vivid blueberry and blackberry notes with Syrah's signature hint of pepper. Incredibly, there are also hints of spicy licorice, smoked meat and black olives.
The palate flavors are fresh, peppery and elegant. There is a boldness to the supple ripe berry and cherry fruits in every mouth-filling sip. There is a delicate dusting of spicy oak, white pepper, and savory herb nuances over the black cherry and red berry fruit flavoring. Background flavors are of earthy leather, tobacco, and meaty bacon laced with black pepper. The tannins are supple and silky-smooth to take you through the long deliciously blackberry, blueberry, and cherry fruit-filled finish.
This is a beautiful, easy-to-drink Syrah, balanced and full-flavored, and it just shines with dishes with lots of black pepper, pungent herbs and meat, such as: lamb, roast pork, sausages, venison, grilled meats and stews. Yet, it is so smooth you can easily drink it on its own with a light snack of black olives.
It is truly and exciting wine find and with a price point hovering around $16 it is truly a steal. On the Jersey Shore you can find this wine at Monmouth Bottle Shop located at 201 Monmouth Road in Oakhurst. Phone 732-531-3080.
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