The Maison Les Alexandrins Syrah 2016 is 92% Syrah and 8% Viognier sourced mainly from vineyards in the Northern Rhone region of France, but also from vineyards in the Loire and in the Southern Rhone Valley. Viognier is a White grape and is the only White grape that is regularly added to Red wine, I asked a winemaker why they used Viognier and they stated that it puts a “shine” on the wine, brightens things up. Almost all wines in the value price range come from the Southern Rhone where the wines are a blend of Grenache and Syrah, occasionally mixed with other grapes such as Mourvedre which is part of the GSM wine blend. The really excellent wineries in the Southern Rhone who make terrific more expensive wines almost always produce killer blends that sell for under $20, sometimes well under twenty. The Northern Rhone is not known for producing value-priced wine, their wines sell for between $25 and $70 with the majority falling somewhere in the middle. Which makes the Maison Les Alexandrins Syrah 2016 standout, while it is not technically a Northern Rhone wine, a good portion of the grapes came from the Northern Rhone AOC, a another batch came from non-AOC, IGP designated villages in the Northern Rhone and others came from outside the Northern Rhone. So this is more Northern Rhone inspired than the real deal, but that is still unusual for the price I found it at, $12. Portions of this wine were aged in stainless steel vats for 4 to 6 months with the rest aged in oak vats
The color is a seriously dark raspberry jam red, you can see thru it, but just barely. The nose is juicy and savory, a touch of smoke from a backyard BBQ, rich blackberry, a slap of spice, a little bacon fat, and black pepper. This is a sleek Syrah, medium-bodied and nicely detailed, if you know Syrah/Shiraz from the wines of Australia, this is something different. It starts with extracted blackberry and a mix of exotic spice, followed by plum and blueberry. The mid-palate adds tart cranberry, a little grip from the tannins, and black cherry followed by pepper. The acidity is well-balanced, the flavors have room to unfold and this is a food wine, but the acidity does not get in the way of sipping enjoyment. The finish fades before long, but stays in the background for quite some time.
The Maison Les Alexandrins Syrah 2016 is a proper French Syrah, yeah, it was probably produced to appeal to folks in Great Britain and the US, but it has the balance that defines some many French wines. While it is not strictly a Northern Rhone Syrah, it is available at a cost a fraction of the usual Rhone AOC wine. This is a Syrah that does not taste like Shiraz from Australia or Syrah from California or Washington, this Syrah tastes French. Since the Northern Rhone is basically the home of Syrah, this is not a bad place to start if you want to explore Syrah based wines. It is sleek and balanced like good French wines are and it is also rather tasty.