Wine | Qupe Syrah: A Rhone-inspired Californian
Something that’s under-advertised about wine is that Syrah (aka Shiraz) creations can vary almost as much as Pinot Noirs. Although this has a lot to do with where the grapes were grown, the winemaker has a huge role to play in the ultimate style and character of a vintage.
One of these Syrah (Rhone varietal) wine notables, Qupè, has been focusing on lighter, more elegant Syrah wines for years. Located in the heart of Santa Barbara County, the cool climate in combination with the winery’s “Rhone Ranger” devotion to the Northern Rhone viticulture style, certainly yields some interesting results.
For 2016, the lighter character of their Central Coast Syrah is a standout starting right with the bouquet. It begins with a dark berry character that quickly mingles with coffee and traces of vanilla. Linger over this bouquet, because it is quite similar to more expensive French Rhone wines such as those from Cote Rotie.
With its richly dark purple color, one would think that this Syrah’s body would be big and fruity, but not so. Its easily savored entry is of blackberry, a little tobacco, brine, and Old World acidity. Qupe 2016 Syrah is quite a pleasant reminder of many lovely French Rhone wines. The finish follows through with white pepper that softly fades, begging for another sip.
Combine all of this with a more restrained 13.5% alcohol and you’ve got a real pairing companion for lighter meats and poultry. Use like you would a Pinot Noir for most food pairing. With a batch of French Dip sandwiches, this is awesome!
You can find it at Total Wine for under $20. But if you want to compare it with similar quality Cote Rotie Syrah, you will have to pick one that’s 2 or 3 times Qupe’s price. One of Total Wine’s “Winery Direct” selections may be best for doing this.
Serve slightly chilled and the bouquet and structure balance will be optimally “Euro”.