Syrah is the red grape used to make the famous Rhône wines and most Rhône blends. It is widely planted in France, traditionally grown in the Rhône Valley, and has also spread to many other countries around the world, being very successful in Australia, South Africa, Argentina and California. In California this grape variety is most rapidly increasing.
Basically, Syrah and Shiraz is the same grape, only from different locations. In Australia, the grape is called Shiraz, or Hermitage. This name is also commonly used in Canada and South Africa. The Californians also use the Shiraz name for marketing purposes. Other synonyms Syrah is known by in various parts of the world include Schiras, Sirac, Syra, Syrac, Serine, Sereine, Antourenein Noir, Balsamina, Candive, Entournerein, and Marsanne Noir.
Syrah is used both as a varietal wine and for blending into other wines. It is successfully blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to produce a full-bodied, spicy red wine. Syrah is also used in the production of rose wine, wines of Port style, and sparkling red wines.
Syrah is believed to be the offspring of two grapes from southeastern France, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. Being a mid-season ripener, Syrah requires heat to get fully ripe, however should not be even slightly overripe as it may lead to losing its varietal qualities.
Syrah produces intense, rich wines, with deep purple, almost inky-black color, chewy texture and richness, and spicy aromas. Its characteristic flavor notes are blackberry and pepper, with raspberry, black cherry, coriander, violets, chocolate, espresso, smoked meat and licorice often noticed as well. The flavors and aromas largely depend on the climate and soils where Syrah was grown. Winemakers’ practices, such as oak barrels, and terroir qualities also influence the wine’s flavor at a later stage.
Wines made from Syrah are often medium-bodied or full-bodied, with a high tannin content, which makes them suitable for considerable bottle aging. Syrah wines can age for over 15 years in exceptional cases.
When looking for Syrah wines experience, try some of these producers: Hogue Cellars, Rosemount Estate, Miguel Torres, Columbia Crest, Wyndham Estate, Brampton, Yalumba, Bodegas Balbi, Arrowood, Peter Lehmann, or Waterford.
Syrah pairs well with grilled meats, game or vegetables. Any rich-flavored red meat, beef stew, strong cheeses or pizza will taste exceptionally well with spice notes of Syrah wine. Syrah is highly recommended o be served at 65 °F (18 °C).