2009 Agrippa: 100% Syrah

Thierry Boudinaud’s 100% Syrah, from a parcel located equidistant from Nimes and Avignon, captures the dark black fruit of Syrah delivered in a friendly, gentle, medium-bodied frame. Whether you like your red to pour out like motor oil or prefer a more delicate touch, Syrah covers all the bases. I think this is what can draw people to Syrah as well as confuse some wine drinkers. If you expect a varietal to conform to a certain set of criteria, Syrah might not fit your expectations every time. The 100% Syrah from Boudinaud is named Agrippa, in honor of the historical figure Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, who was instrumental in building the famous Pont Du Gard aqueduct which lies in proximity to the parcel Thierry uses for this cuvee. 

The Agrippa is a relatively new wine in the Boudinaud arsenal, debuting in 2000. When first shown Agrippa in barrel, David was struck by its Northern Rhone characteristics; black fruit, pepper, dark profile. As David relayed to me, there is a reason why Grenache reigns queen in the south and Syrah is king in the north, but for some reason this 3-hectare parcel behaves more like it lies closer to Cornas than to the Mediterranean. One factor could be the soil, which is composed mostly of sandy loess, and with vine-age close to 20 years, the fruit coming off the vine has gained complexity. Another interesting fact about the Agrippa is that Thierry doesn’t make it in every vintage and when he does he produces far less than is possible, leaving production levels around 10-15 barrels. In essence, Agrippa is Boudinaud’s reserve wine. Pretty impressive for a wine that costs less than $20 (and far less when purchased by the case: $16.14).

Lately, I have been giving a lot thought to how best to convey to others the value and pleasure for drinking wines that dance along in the arena of easy, vibrant and unquestionably – medium-bodied. Wines that are big, huge, massive and powerful usually get all the attention. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy a full-bodied wine, however, the loudest in a crowd is not necessarily the best and the brightest. A lot of the times, it is the understated and modest wine that best enhances the meal, turning that lovingly made, home-cooked dish into something even more nourishing and transformative.

I’m headed to the farmer’s market this weekend to load up on hard squashes and fall fruits. A slow-braised one-pot dish seems to be in order, the kind of dish that tastes even better the next day. When the flavors in the pot begin to meld, a wine like Boudinaud’s 2009 Agrippa Syrah is capable of embracing the dish like a ballroom dancer, a firm hand to the small of the back and confidently taken for a twirl. On that night we might abandon the dining table for the coffee table set in front of the fireplace; a steaming bowl of yummy and a goblet of delicious. How cozy is that? Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Syrah

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