This classic red wine grape like so many of the leading international varieties hails historically from France and mainly in the northern Rhone Valley. Such is its versatility Syrah has also grown in stature and importance in the ‘New Wine World’, most notably in Australia where it is known as Shiraz.

by Alan Hunter AIWS,

The Style Of Syrah


On the Eye: Deep indigo and purple colours for older wines, lightening to more mellow crimson for wines of youth.

On the Nose: Generally should always display fresh wild herbs and a mixture of red and black fruits with a whiff of smoke and leather. Northern Rhone wines will be more peppery with an abundance of herbs whilst Australian wines will have more blackcurrant aromas with stronger hints of leather. Some of the southern Australian wines will display cool hints of fresh mint.

On the Palate: Freshly ground black pepper, ginger and dark chocolate in Rhone wines with Australian wines being broad and fat with rich fruit flavours. Both will be high in tannin but should be well balanced.

by Alan Hunter AIWS,

Syrah or Shiraz?

Such is the new found fame of Shiraz, particularly over the last decade, that even some of the most stoic and traditional producers in France have realised this ‘new name’ is significant in consumer recognition of its importance in producing reliably popular wines. So they too have recently adopted the title ‘Shiraz’ in order to capitalise upon this stage for their regular ‘everyday drinking’ wines.

Heavily perfumed and deep in colour Syrah can produce wines of the highest quality with powerful tannins that remain with age, keeping the fruit flavours well balanced and intact.

The most famous Syrah wines when produced in a single grape variety style are undoubtedly the ‘big wines’ of the northern Rhone such as Hermitage. These classics need long cellaring so they can mature to their best, but the more well known wines of Crozes Hermitage and St Joseph can be appreciated after just a few years. In the Southern Rhone it forms part of a whole collection of grape varieties in wines such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape where it can be seen to ‘party’ with 12 others, some not quite of the same ilk however, but never-the-less just as important to the grower and enabling him to create his own individual style.

Syrah does not only represent some of the top and most expensive wines of this area of France, it also provides us with simpler less expensive styles such as the wines produced by the ‘Australian Shiraz’.

These have seen a rapid rise to stardom especially those from the Hunter Valley region. In fact Shiraz is the most widely planted grape variety in this vast country and is responsible for ‘oceans’ of blackberry flavoured smooth and spicy wines made purposely for the mass wine market. However in the Barossa Valley the Shiraz wines created from 100 year old vines are most opulent with dense and powerful long lasting fruit flavours. It is also blended in Australia very successfully with Cabernet Sauvignon and back in France’s south west region of Languedoc, with Grenache, Carignan and Mourvedre, where it is recognised as playing another important support role for style and authentic quality.

by Alan Hunter AIWS,

Matching Syrah’ Shiraz with Food

Such a variety of wine styles gives us plenty of scope here, but if you stick with game, juicy red meat roasts, grilled steaks and herby sausages, you will have some fun and not be disappointed!

by Alan Hunter AIWS,
Bottle sizes
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