Getting Ready for #Vinisud2016: Variety vs. Varietal – Syrah and Syrah-Based Blends

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Getting Ready for #Vinisud2016: Variety vs. Varietal – Syrah and Syrah-Based Blends


The Vinisud wine conference will be held this February 15-17 in Montpellier, France, and the organizers are holding a competition for wine bloggers, with the winners being sent at the organizers’ expense to cover the event.  I’d love to transmit my impressions to you from the south of France, and although I’ve never before asked my readers to help me in this way, I’m asking you now.

If you’d like to read my coverage from Montpellier in February, please retweet (or otherwise broadcast) this blog post (or the accompanying social media posts that I send to publicize my blogs) by the end of business on Thursday, January 7, and include the hashtag #VINISUD2016.  Just FYI, this blog is intended to match the “Consumer Area” category listed on the VINISUD blog platform (  Thanks so much!



Vines as far as the eye can see...

Vines as far as the eye can see…

It’s easy to be confused by wine labels but consumers and producers alike realize that allowing choice in the wine aisle can lead to higher quality and, perhaps, better margins as well.  Compounding this confusion is the difference between “variety” and varietal.”  Basically, “variety” is a noun, as in, “the grape variety is syrah.”  “Varietal” is an adjective used to describe wine made from a certain variety of grape, so that a bottle labeled as syrah contains a varietal wine.

Varietal wines are more common to “New World” appellations (regions) such as those in Australia and the United States because local producers tend to bottle their wines according to the variety of grape used.  In “Old World” regions such as those in France and Italy, a wine is instead identified by the appellation in which the grape is grown; the wine itself could, and often does, consist of a blend of several different grape varieties.

Here I focus on varietal wines made from syrah (one of the most noble of wine grapes), as well as one example of a syrah-based blend.  Syrah is now grown around the world, but one of its most sacred homes lies in the south of France (although most of today’s recommendations come from the U.S.).  Today’s notes were gathered from recent samples and at industry gatherings.  I include my tasting notes at the end of the column in shorthand that goes like this: appearance (if relevant)/aroma/taste/acidity & finish.  If I can find a domestic retail price then I list it (if there is more than one I err on the higher side), with “N/A” meaning that the wine is not generally available in the U.S.

Familiarity and ease of pronunciation help to sell otherwise obscure wines to consumers, even when the bottles come from unfamiliar wine regions.  There is much to celebrate in these iconic grapes and blends and they deserve a spot in your cellar.



The Rutherford Dust Society tasting is always a winner

The Rutherford Dust Society tasting is always a winner

Ben has an article about the Rutherford Dust Society in the Napa Valley (as well as a sidebar on legendary grape grower Andy Beckstoffer’s contribution to Rutherford’s wine scene) in Edible Marin and Wine Country Magazine (  This edition also includes stories on the recent Napa earthquake and the Rutherford Dust Society.  Check it out!



Sunset in Piemonte - amazing!

Sunset in Piemonte – amazing!

Have you ever read one of Ben’s columns and wondered how it would look to have one of his incredibly vivid, high resolution pictures of wine country framed on your wall?  Prints of his quirky photography are available at, and you can also add his images to smartphone cases, greeting cards, and many other items.  Pictures can be ordered loose or matted and framed in various sizes.  Click Here to take a peek.



The beauty of wine country is hard to describe, which is why you have to go there!

The beauty of wine country is hard to describe, which is why you have to go there!

With Wine On The Road (, my wine-focused touring company, you can enjoy the ultimate wine country excursion with special access to top winemakers and their incomparable wines.  Wine On The Road offers intimate wine country tours that combine award-winning wines and exquisite dining and lodging with uniquely local flair and flavor.  We lodge at excellent and luxurious wine country estates (in the past we’ve occupied ancient yet completely restored castles as well as five-star resorts, all with modern amenities).  We eat at amazing local restaurants and visit wineries that embody the best, most authentic expressions of local wine grapes.

You can learn more about these trips, book private groups in wine country world-wide and request more information on any of these extraordinary travel experiences by visiting, emailing me at, or calling me at 303-522-6738.



Tenet Wines Syrah The Fervent 2013 (Costieres de Nimes, France) $25

Black-red/black plum, blood orange, pencil lead/blueberry, boysenberry, toast, cocoa/medlong


Tenet Wines Syrah The Pundit 2013 (Columbia Valley, Washington) $22

Dark ruby/dark cherry, cocoa, vanilla/black truffle, purple plum, cherry pie, vanilla/medmod


Clayhouse Syrah Red Cedar Vineyard (Paso Robles, California) $14

Garnet/violet, licorice, clove, blackberry/red raspberry, blackberry/hilong


Kendall-Jackson VR Syrah 2012 (California, U.S.) $17

Blue-red/plum, blackberry/cola, cinnamon, buttered bread/medmod


Cline Syrah Los Carneros Sonoma Estate 2013 (Sonoma County, California) $40

Dark red-blue/black plum, red cherry/vanilla, coffee grounds, toast/medlong


Trione Syrah RRV (Sonoma County, California) $32

Dark red/red plum, blackberry/sous bois, black pepper, cola/hilong


Tenet Wines Red Wine GSM 2013 (Columbia Valley, Washington) $20

Blood red/wild strawberry, raspberry jam/blueberry, tobacco, white pepper, clove, anise/hilong

By |2016-01-05T10:14:55+00:00January 5th, 2016|General Interest, Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

The President of Ben Weinberg Consultants is a Senior Consultant with the company, specializing in marketing, sales, and operational support. He has creatively impacted a variety of projects and brands in his 30+ years of consulting while focusing on the particular needs of small- and medium-size businesses.

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