A rich, powerful, and sometimes meaty red wine that originated in the Rhône Valley of France. Syrah is the most planted grape of Australia where they call it Shiraz.
- Full Body
- Medium-High Tannin
- Medium Acidity
- 13.5–15% ABV
Darker meats and exotic spices bring out the fruit notes of Syrah. Try it with Lamb Shawarma, Gyros, Asian 5-spice pork and even Indian tandoori meats.
Fun Facts About Syrah
- Syrah and Shiraz are the exact same grape variety. The name "Shiraz" came about in Australia when they first imported the grape in 1832.
- The world's oldest Syrah grows in South Australia and the vines are over 175 years old. This is because Phylloxera has never affected the region.
- Wherever you find Syrah planted you might also find some Viognier planted close by. This practice originated in Côte Rôtie of France where small amounts of Viognier add complexity and surprisingly, a deeper color to Syrah wines.
- Syrah from hot climates exhibit more jammy, blackberry flavors.
- Syrah from warm climates with cool nights exhibit more tart blueberry, black pepper, and olive flavors.
- The peppery scent described in some Syrah is from an aroma compound called rotundone – also found in black pepper.
- Syrah is a late budding and late ripening grape that loves the sun. The grape prefers warmer climates and tends to produce more age-worthy wines in places with cooler night time temperatures.
In the nose, Syrah tends to exhibit more black fruit flavors including plums, blackberry, blueberry, and even olive. Almost all Syrah have a subtle whiff of black pepper spice. This is from a higher presence of an aroma compound called rotundone (an impact compound used in blind tasting.)
What's surprising, are the many tasting notes that describe Syrah with meaty undertones, particularly bacon fat, cured meat, or even burnt rubber. While these aromas sound awkward, they're most likely an indication of reductive winemaking (protection from oxidation) which can yield longer-lasting wines.
Be sure to decant your Syrah if you do not like the meaty smells.
Finally, many Syrah producers use oak barrels to age their wine. Oak adds its own set of flavors including vanilla, sweet tobacco, cigar box, or even milk chocolate.
On the palate, Syrah is a huge burst of flavor that moves quickly into its focused tannins and then leaves somewhat quietly. This is one of those wines that's loved for its smooth and friendly finish.
Syrah is one of the world's top most popular grapes (with over 150,000 acres planted worldwide).
Critics often describe Syrah as a "terroir grape" which suggests that it's particularly sensitive to the environment in where it grows. Thus, you can expect a wide variety of regional differences from this grape.
Flavors: Black Currant, Violet, Bacon Fat, Black Peppercorn, Graphite
The region most famous for Syrah in France is a thin strip of land that runs along the Rhône River, in the Northern Rhône Valley. It's here where you'll find some of the most coveted Syrah wines in the world.
The wineries in the Northern Rhône have been producing Syrah under the regional names of Hermitage, Côte Rôtie, Cornas, and so on, for hundreds of years. In fact, this region has been generally accepted as the original homeland of Syrah.
What's notable about these wines (and French Syrah in general) is their distinct earthiness and savory flavors.
Flavors: Blackberry Sauce, Fruit Cake, Sassafras, Camphor, Sweet Tobacco
There are very few wines in the world that can meet the intensity of South Australian Shiraz.
Often these wines have significant meaty (beef broth, beef jerky) and black pepper aromas along with gobs of fruit. The fruit flavors really are big.
Tannins are generally grippy, but still fine-grained and somewhat powdery, rather than chopping or harsh. Alcohol levels are naturally quite high, due to the abundant Aussie sunshine.
In the past, critics have poo-pooed Australian Shiraz – calling it "motor oil." This opinion is somewhat ill-informed given the incredible finesse Australia has to offer.
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