SYRAH and SHIRAZ
Syrah also known as Shiraz, is a red grape variety used to make high-quality fine wine. Syrah is known for being dense and full-bodied, heavy and powerful but still smooth and drinkable. As a wine, Syrah and Shiraz becomes one of the darkest red wines available, almost to the point of being purple. The syrah flavor profile is primarily characterized as meaty with black pepper, dark fruit, violets and notes of blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry, herbs, licorice, chocolate, and olives.
Both Syrah and Shiraz refer to the same type of grape, as well as the red wine produced by that grape. When the syrah grape was introduced by France to Australia, its name gradually changed to shiraz. Generally speaking, wineries use shiraz to suggest their wine is a little more rich, lush, ripe, and fruity than the traditional French syrah, which is a bit lighter on the fruit factor.
Syrah was found to be the offspring of two obscure grapes from southeastern France, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche grapes. The style and flavor profile of wines made from Syrah is influenced by the climate where the grapes are grown with moderate climates as in such as the northern Rhone Valley and parts of central Washington State tending to produce medium to full-bodied wines with medium to high levels of tannins and notes of blackberry, mint and black pepper. In hot climates in regions of Australia, Syrah is more consistently full-bodied with softer tannin, jammier fruit and spice notes of licorice, anise and earthy leather. In many regions the acidity and tannin levels of Syrah allow the wines produced to have favorable aging potential.
Aside from its deep red hue, the syrah grape has several other distinct qualities:
- Syrah grapes are small, and range from round to a bit egg-shaped.
- The grape is sturdy, but is susceptible to coulure, a weather-related hazard which causes shattering after flowering. It is also vulnerable to attacks from mildew and oidium.
- The grapes have a short ripening period, so picking syrah is a delicate process requiring strong human oversight and know-how.
- The tannins in the skin of the syrah grapes allow it to age well in the bottle for decades. However, syrah grapes are picked at peak maturity, so the wine doesn’t necessarily need to age for decades to get the full body and flavor. Most syrah wines are ready to drink after only a few years.
- Syrah grapes prefer dry climates and soils that permit deep root penetration (hence their popularity in Australia). The syrah grape is very sensitive to frost and over-cropping.
- Syrah is known as a “workhorse grape” or a “chameleon grape” for its ability to combine well with other grapes, including Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsaut, Bordeaux, and Viognier.
Syrah is used as a single varietal or as a blend. Following several years of strong planting, Syrah was estimated in 2004 to be the world’s 7th most grown grape at 142,600 hectares (352,000 acres). It can be found throughout the globe from France to New World wine regions such as: Chile, South Africa, the New Zealand, California and Washington. It can also be found in several Australian wine regions such as: Barossa, Heathcote, Coonawarra, Hunter Valley, Margaret River and McLaren Vale
SYRAH or SHIRAZ FOOD PAIRING
- Barbecue, especially spareribs
- Braised beef
- Cheese, especially aged hard cheeses like Gouda
- Chicken, especially barbecued and braised
- Grilled meats and vegetables
- Lamb, especially roast leg of lamb
- Steaks and chops
- Tuna, especially grilled or seared tuna
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2007 Alexandre Rochette & cie St. Joseph
2016 Amon Ra By Ben Glaetzer Barossa Valley Unfiltered Shiaz
2007 Andrew Hardy OX Shiraz
Fisher Vineyards Hidden Terrace Vineyard Syrah
2010 Guigal Ermitage Ex Voto
2012 Haut-Blanville 1955
Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas les Ruchets
2017 Lancyre Rose
2009 Nicolas Perrin Cornas
2004 Planeta Syrah