Syrah: born in France, loved the world over
According to the latest research, Syrah originated in France, most probably from a natural crossing of Mondeuse blanche and Dureza. Some of France’s finest red wines are made from the Syrah grape at the northern end of the Rhône Valley: Hermitage, Cornas and Côte-Rôtie.
Apart from the south of France, Syrah is also found in South Africa
, where the variety goes under the name of Shiraz
and accounts for a large percentage of hectarage under vine. Under Australia’s hot sun it produces dark, grippy wines that can be a little austere in their youth
and take years to mature. Grange Hermitage from Penfolds
consists of over 90% Shiraz (depending on vintage) and is considered to be Australia’s finest wine. This complex wine possesses a port-like concentration and needs to mature for twenty years
Syrah: a pleasure to drink either as a varietal or in a blend
Syrah is a mid-ripening grape that is susceptible to botrytis and mites, and also to chlorosis. It is heat-resistant and does not like calcareous soils. This muscular variety produces characterful, flavourful wines with a high alcohol content and abundant tannins. Syrah wines are deep dark red and display intense notes of black pepper, plums, chocolate and leather – along with a characteristic blackcurrant aroma. Good vintages are well suited for long cellaring.
In France’s Midi, Syrah is also used as a blending variety to improve the quality of many wines that used to lack character. It is one of the 13 grape varieties permitted in Châteauneuf-du-Pape
and it is also becoming increasingly important in the Gard Département and in Provence
Several wineries in California
have also discovered this variety. Syrah wines there are characterized by a pronounced fruitiness, a certain sweetness and an abundance of tannins
. In Côte-Rôtie, Syrah wines are so firm and concentrated that they are blended with Viognier
white wine grapes. Major producers make wine from Syrah that can be kept for decades.