The Rhone in France is divided into Northern and Southern wine regions and most of what we see on our shelves in the UK comes from the South… Grenache dominant blends with Syrah and Mourvèdre amongst other varieties; wines like ‘Cote du Rhone’, ‘Chateauneuf Du Pape’, ‘Vacqueyras’ etc. The red wines from the North (with a few exceptions) tend to be 100% Syrah and their elegant refined style couldn’t be more different from an Australian Shiraz if they tried. This Northern Rhone Syrah has a medium-deep ruby colour in the glass with bramble blackcurrant fruit, garrigue herbs, heather and a buttery aroma. On the palate there’s pure blackberry fruit with a ‘wet stone’ mineral structure and hint of vanilla and cedar creeping in amongst the medium long finish that has a faint savory edge to it. The alcohol and acidity are well balanced, bringing both freshness and unity to the wine. This is well crafted and elegant Syrah rather than the intense beasts you may have come across from the new world. If you struggle with the heady nature of Shiraz style wines then give Northern Rhone Syrah a go, you might find it a revelation. £11.95 a bottle from The Wine Society.