As noted in this week's 30 Second Wine Advisor, (, there's often a dramatic difference between Old World and New World styles, particularly when it comes to Syrah/Shiraz. To test this hypothesis, I set up a "blind" tasting of a French Crozes-Hermitage and a California Syrah of similar vintage and roughly similar price. To say the least, each lived up to its national stereotype:

Delas Freres 1997 Les Launes Crozes-Hermitage ($14.49)
Delas FreresClear, dark garnet, with fresh, plummy fruit surrounded by characteristic aromas of raw meat and leather, plus an earthy mineral nature that I associate with the Northern Rhone. Minerally fruit and earthy notes are supported by a firm acidic structure. Good balanced, though quite young and somewhat tannic; it opens up to more layered complexity with time in the glass. (Dec. 15, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: A thick T-bone steak pan-grilled medium-rare makes a fine companion and helps tame the wine's youthful tannins.

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Beckmen Vineyards 1997 Santa Barbara County Syrah ($18.99)
BeckmenInky ruby with an orange glint. Spicy black fruit fights for dominance with oaky vanillins in the aroma, and the vanillins win. Big and juicy, peppery fruit and sweet oak. Quite "New World" in nature, with the oak qualities almost intrusive. (Dec. 15, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Washes down a pan-grilled T-bone but doesn't really gain from the food match.

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