If you haven’t tried Syrah you are not living.

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Syrah Grapes

Syrah also known as Shiraz, is a full-bodied and dark-skinned grape variety grown throughout the world. It is the 7th most widely grown grape in the world, at over 145,000 hectares. In various regions, high tannin and acidity levels enable Syrah to accomplish favourable aging potential. Syrah typically displays flavours of cassis (blackberry) dark chocolate and oak.

While many regions would like to claim Syrah their own. It is confirmed as indigenous to the Rhone Valley, in France.

Like Chardonnay, Syrah has two distinctly different modern world and old world styles. It largely depends on where the wine in grown as to whether it is a medium climate (old world) or hot climate (new world) syrah.

The typical oldworld syrah is lighter and leaner than the intense shiraz wines of the new world, which tend to be richer, riper and more full-bodied.

Wine characteristics

Medium climate: Mint, smoked meat, milk chocolate, eucalyptus and black pepper.

Hot climate: Dark chocolate, liquorice, cloves, espresso, mocha and mushroom.

Wine age: Leather, wet leaves and earth.

Best of the best regions

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Côte-Rôtie, Northern France

Some of the most notable regions are:

  • California
  • Côte-Rôtie
  • Barossa Valley
  • McLarren Vale

THe Côte-Rôtie region is known for some of the oldest and best Shiraz bottles in the world. Côte Rôtie is widely- known for some of the most prestigious red-wine appellations, at the northern tip of France’s Rhône Valley wine region. Wines from this terrior are renowned for being finely structured and elegant, and present complex aromas.

Not so surprisingly they sell for a pretty penny too.

Quick history

Historically, the name Shiraz refers to the wine produced around the city of Shiraz in Persia/ Iran. In the 9th century, the city of Shiraz (Iran) had established a reputation for producing the finest wine in the world, and was Iran’s wine capital. The first documented occurances of Shiraz export wasnt’t until the 17th century, when European merchants – were introduced to the region. The wine grown close to the city in Iran was of a more dilute character due to irrigation, while the best Shiraz wines were actually grown in terraced vineyards (growing mechanism whereby a sloped plane is cut into a series of successively receding flat surfaces or platforms, which resemble steps) around the Sothern village of Khollar. These wines were white and existed in two different styles: dry wines for drinking young, and sweet wines meant for aging. The latter wines were compared to “an old sherry” and at five years of age were said to have a fine bouquet and nutty flavour. The dry white Shiraz wines (but not the sweet ones) were fermented with significant  stem contact, which should have made these wines rather phenolic, i.e.rich in tannins.

Today and in modern Iran, wine cannot be produced legally due to the prohibition of alcohol of Islam. And before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, there were up to 300 wineries in Iran. As a whole, Iran is not a wine-producing country anymore, but Iranian Christians are legally allowed to ferment wine.

Modern day regions where you can find Syrah include; Australia, South Africa, New Zealand Canada and the United States.

Australian Shiraz. The modern Shiraz grape, was brought to Australia by James Busby, the father of Australian wine. Busby travelled through Spain and France collecting vine cuttings that were the foundation of the Australian wine industry. Despite being genetically identical, the Shiraz grape tastes and looks different compared to its European siblings especially when grown in warm climates.

Syrah is very good for blending. The Barossa Valley in Australia is the birthplace to some of the highest rated Syrah-based wines in the world.

Australian Shiraz is exported mainly to the United States and Asian countries such as China.

Californian Syrah. Surprisingly, Syrah only made its appearance inCalifornia in the 1970s, where it was planted by a group of viticulturists who called themselves “Rhône rangers”. Although most plantings of the grape are in California, there are increasing amounts of it being grown in Washington state.

Good to know: In France, the grape is called Syrah, while in Australia and South Africa the grape is called Shiraz.

In certain areas, the name you get on the bottle – Syrah or Shiraz – will be an indication of style rather than where it is from. Syrah meaning old world (that coming from Europe), and Shiraz the new world (who’s origin is not Europe).

The grandfather of all red wines.