- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Porcupine Ridge, Syrah, Coastal Region, South Africa, 2007, $12

Syrah, sometimes called shiraz, is starting to star in South Africa, where top examples offer ebullient fruit flavor tempered by echoes of savory, sometimes smoky spice. They also can offer fine value.

Because the international wine market has not yet discovered how good these wines can be, savvy consumers can find some delicious bargains.

Though wine has been made in South Africa for more than 300 years, syrah is a fairly recent arrival. The grape has adapted well to its new surroundings, particularly when planted in the relatively cool coastal region north of Cape Town. There, its naturally expressive primary fruit flavors become enhanced by secondary ones displaying a distinctly peppery quality. The wines taste savory rather than just sweet, so they offer multilayered pleasure.

This particular syrah is very well-balanced. Medium-bodied, it shows no alcoholic heat but instead offers subtle, seamless flavors. Try it with equally savory dishes such as braised short ribs or veal osso buco that will allow its spicy, peppery notes to soar.

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