I find it so interesting to head over to Napa Valley and look at vineyards. The neatly manicured vines remind me how well behaved the Cabernet sauvignon vine is (and how much farming one can do when you get hundreds of dollars for a bottle of wine!). It has an upright growth habit and short distances between leaves so there are enough leaves to ripen fruit even on shorter branches. These attributes make it ideal to grow in the vertical trellis systems that we also use. Coming back to the Estate vineyard I see this happening with our Grenache vines but our Syrah is a completely different story!
My Grandfather’s copy of “Grape Varieties of South Australia” published in 1966 describes Syrah/Shiraz as having a spreading and trailing habit as compared to the “upright and short noded” habit of Cabernet and Grenache. All this means that we need long canes to have enough leaves to ripen the fruit and it just doesn’t want to stay in the nice tidy trellis systems that we now like to use. I guess it just offends my sense of neatness and orderliness!
The thing is, I just love Syrah wines so I’ve learned to live with how it grows, even though it requires more intensive farming than some of our other varieties. After all, its what is inside the bottle that counts. I do believe though that some of the vine’s nature does end up in the bottle as Syrah tends to show more than just simple fruit flavors and text books comment on the meaty, tarry, bacony and sometimes peppery flavors that demonstrate its wild side. Our Estate Syrah is a selection of the most intense lots made in 2017 and will be at its best with richer foods and will be a great candidate for aging in the cellar for another 5-8 years. More structured than the ‘16 version, it combines both the fruit and wild sides of the Syrah grape and is one of the best of the Estate Syrah’s to date.