Something different from the Douro – Labrador – Syrah 2011

I had been looking at this bottle of Douro red with the labrador dog on the label for some time at Apolónia. A Syrah from Douro, it begged the question, why? The region, as any lover of Portuguese wine knows, produces the best reds in the country from indigenous grapes so why would Noval, one of the great Port wine houses, even be growing Syrah? But this wine just goes to show how versatile this grape variety is and how well it is suited to Portuguese terroir. Syrah dominates as a foreign red grape in the Alentejo and has a strong presence elsewhere, including here in the Algarve. But in the Douro this was, I believe, the first varietal to be produced from Syrah when it was launched from the 2007 vintage.
And what a luscious wine it is, reminding me of some of the better southern Australian Shiraz I have tried. Full bodied but with soft tannins, this is not a wine with great ageing potential, and this 2011 is drinking beautifully (€14.95 at Apolónia). There are rich dark berry fruits with a hint of chocolate on the nose and it’s velvety smooth in the mouth with a good long finish, more than justifying the price tag.
By Patrick Stuart [email protected]