Cultivation of this delightful variety almost collapsed at one point. In the 1950s, France had less than 2,000 hectares of Syrah. Today there are around 180,000 hectares planted to Syrah around the world, making it one of the most widely planted wine grapes.
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 and Australia, 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.
deep dark red
black pepper, plums, chocolate, leather, blackcurrants