I won’t let Kole near my wine racks. Every time he tries to pick out a wine for dinner, I shoo him away with the explanation that I’m “saving” that wine for something specific. “Not that wine, it’s too light for our dish.”

He’ll shrug and grab a different bottle. “Hmm not that one, the tannins will overpower the fish.”

Next bottle. “No, that one should be refrigerated first and I want to eat dinner now.”

The bottle of 2013 Proprietor’s Block Syrah from Kacaba Vineyards & Winery was a bit of a mystery to me. I remember going to Kacaba with our out of town wedding guests the day before our wedding, and I even vaguely remember really liking the syrah and buying a bottle. And that’s about it. I wasn’t sure if this is one of those wines you actually like, or if you have fond memories surrounding it. It retails for $30.15 at the vineyard, although it appears to have sold out in the few days between when I drank the wine and when I wrote the article. The price tag explains why I hoarded this one for a while. I was waiting for just the right steak to get into this bad boy.

The grapes are from the south facing slopes of Proprietor’s Block vineyard in Vineland, ON, a part of the Niagara Escarpment that gets a lot of sunshine during a sunny year. This vintage was a Silver Medal winner in the Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada, and clocks in at a respectable 13% ABV. I prefer the syrah style over shiraz’s jammy flavours, and I prefer decanting this varietal as the tannins can be a little harsh at times. Pardon the mess on my counter, our dining room has lousy lighting and my kitchen is perpetually messy.

Appearance: Deep ruby with violet undertones. Developing rim.

Aroma: Dark cherry skin, cassis, leather, violets, savoury meat.

Taste: Palate is very close to the bouquet. Deep fruit notes, smokey and savoury meats, vanilla. Well-balanced tannins prior to decanting, and decanting helped. Dark chocolate. Cola. Green peppers.

Aftertaste: Lingering deep cherry with heavy savoury notes.

Suggested food pairing: Steak as rare as you’re comfortable eating, game meats. Could also pair with a salted dark chocolate.

Overall: Very lovely, fringing on full bodied wine. Definitely pair with food. Would stand up nicely to a Rhône Valley Syrah at a fraction of the cost for a comparable flavour. A lovely example of the Niagara Escarpment’s terroir on a sunny summer.

Shawna O'Flaherty

Shawna is a 30-something Montreal native transplanted to Toronto in 2010. Wine loving, beer sniffing and rum swilling come naturally to her, and she is also a certified Irish whiskey taster. She has hosted beer and cheese pairing events in the past.

Shawna has visited vineyards in 6 countries on 3 continents, and has a knack for finding the hoppiest beers around. A dedicated Booze Hound, Shawna completed the Wine Specialist Certificate at George Brown College in 2018.

She can be found drinking alka-seltzer and coconut water in the morning.

Email: shawna@torontoboozehound.com