Syrah / Shiraz
of the World
This is the first in our series of grape variety tastings, showcasing some of the best examples across the world. In this tasting we will explore the power, elegance and versatility of Syrah/Shiraz through eight fantastic and different expressions of Syrah/Shiraz from countries such as France, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Chile.
Syrah / Shiraz
Primarily known in the Rhône Valley as Syrah, and may well have been grown there since Roman times. It is very well-adapted to the steep granite slopes and terraces on the banks of the Rhône river and centered around the well known towns of Ampuis (Côte Rôtie) and Tain (Hermitage). The vineyards are carefully angled to harness the limited sunshine in order to ripen successfully, and this northern part of the Rhône can be so much cooler than many regions in the south where Syrah takes a back seat to other grape varieties such as Grenache and Mourvèdre.
The trademark flavour of French Syrah is without a doubt black pepper (aroma known as: rotundone). Good Rhone Syrah will have this in abundance, but it can mature into extraordinary wines with notes of leather and in very ripe years, game and spice. Côte Rôtie is different again from the Rhone where a small proportion of Viognier can be used to add perfume, silkiness and lighten a blend.
In the southern Rhône, around Châteauneuf-du-Pape in appellations such as Gigondas, Lirac and even Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages, Syrah plays an important although usually only minor role, adding structure and black fruits to the dominant Grenache blends and other local specialties such as Mourvèdre.
There's no doubt that Syrah's historical stronghold is France, but other important regions including Australia (where it has been known as Shiraz), New Zealand, South Africa, Morocco and as far wide as both north and south America, prodeuce some fantastic styles. If black pepper is the cooler climate, French trademark, dark chocolate from Shiraz when produced from hotter vineyards (such as the Barossa Valley) can be charming and generous and some can be so rich in fact that some producers deliberately add tannin and acidity to give the wines backbone and retain freshness.
Wines on Tasting:*
- Cederberg Shiraz, Cederberg, South Africa
- Craggy Range, Hawke’s Bay Syrah, New Zealand
- Jim Barry, Barossa Valley, Australia
- Pierre Gaillard, St Joseph
- La Roche Paradis, Cote Rôtie
- Long Shadows Syrah, Washington State
- Pizzano Syrah, Tuscany
- Errazuriz Syrah, Valle de Leyda, Chile
Note - due to stock or vintage changes some wines may be substituted. This list is indicative of what may be on offer*