France

Blind Guardian French Syrah

Blind Guardian are a German power metal band, so of course it
Posted 09th November 2012        
     

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Blind Guardian are a German power metal band, so of course it makes about as much sense as anything else in the world that they are marketing a French single-varietal Syrah wine.

To add to the confusion, this is the first time I’ve found myself reviewing a novelty/celebrity-endorsed wine without any kind of grounding of knowledge to enter into my review with.

I’ve drunk the wine, so that’s a start I guess. Now I’m listening to Blind Guardian’s most recent album on Spotify.

It’s ridiculous – far more so than the wine, which was a relatively straight-down-the-line affair: a decent take on the Shiraz grape with a touch of softness and refinement emphasizing its plummy fruit flavours and subtle noseful of spices over alcohol, oak and tannins. Hence it being called Syrah. And being French. (Not necessarily in that order.)

The music reminds me of Nightwish, and to a lesser extent – and this really is just for people who don’t listen to a lot of metal – Iron Maiden.

In terms of heavy-metal history, I think the Guardians rank closer to Maiden than Nightwish in terms of longevity, so it’s likelier that the notorious Finnish fantasy metallers took their influence from these theatrical Germans than the other way around.

The orchestral (probably keyboard-generated) symphonics/cacophonics and twiddly guitars are perfectly poised with the hairy – possibly even permed – vocals, but I really must remember than I’m reviewing the wine and not the music here.

But will anyone other than myself come to this wine without these sounds in their head? That’s a question worth asking. Which is why I asked it. When I reviewed Amon Amarth’s Shiraz recently I had thundering hoofs, swinging axes, decapitated heads screaming, burning monastries and just a little melodic death metal going through my head; so coming to this wine as I did without the music and accompanying baggage to spur me on it did feel just a little bit unexciting.

I mean, it was decent; I drank the lot. Well, apart from the bit I put in the lasagne – but that’s no insult. I would never cook with nasty wine. Nobody sensible would recommend that.

The thing is, a character wine like this – a novelty wine, as I said before, though I don’t mean that by any means dismissively – needs context to really work.

So now I’m getting into Blind Guardian – enjoying what seems to be a flute-led orchestral breakdown in fact – I’m starting to see why they went for Syrah instead of the heavy-metal-varietal of choice “Shiraz“. I mean, yeah, it’s the same grape/music; but these guys don’t rely on brute force to put the weight in their metal. They use story, and atmosphere, and meoldrama – and maybe a little bit of hairspray. They have Syrah (and possibly, erm, Gewurztraminer) written all over them.

I think the guy just sang something about tearing a unicorn into pieces. I might be wrong, but never mind; this is great. Here it is just for your enjoyment:

You can buy this wine from EMP.de for €14,99, but I recommend you do what I didn’t and get hold of some of their music first.

     

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Meet the Author:
Alexander Velky
Alexander grew up on Anglesey, almost as far away from civilization as he’d have liked. He studied English at university and subsequently moved to Prague to teach it to Czech people for just long enough that he could say he’d done that. He then returned to the UK to do an MA in Professional Writing, and later moved to London by accident and worked in the music industry for a while. His interest in wine has been developing throughout. He took the WSET Intermediate exam, for which he was rewarded with a certificate and a pin badge, but he probably won't bother doing any more. He now lives in Pembrokeshire with his wife and daughter. He writes, and drinks, for a living. You can follow him on Twitter if that's how you choose to spend your time. Photograph by Léonie Keeble