Que Syrah, Syrah. What style will it be, for me.
Ok, so enough of my horrible singing (lucky for you this is not a video post). It is time to talk about the Syrah or Shiraz grape. Shiraz was the first red wine I really loved. My love of wine journey was a bit weird looking back: Boones – White Zinfindels – Pinot Grigio – Shiraz and then everything else.
Why it surprises me that Shiraz was my first red love, is that it wouldn’t normally be the wine I would introduce new winos too right off the bat for red. Shiraz’s are big reds, they are full bodied, dark coloured, with usually medium to high tannins with medium acidity and generally high alcohol levels. There is nothing delicate and light in the glass. It is big, bold and delicious. If you are new to red wines and have a “go big or go home” attitude the Shiraz might just be the thing. It worked for me.
The Syrah/Shiraz grapes are one of the oldest grapes out there. They are small grapes with darkly coloured skins. They need moderate to hot climates to ripen properly and are planted quite widely around the world. In moderate climates, you will experience blackberry, smoked meat, spiciness like black pepper, mint and some herbaciousness on the nose and palate. From hot climates, you will get blackberry, dark chocolate, sweet spice and liquorice. Syrah’s are often oaked, so likely to get some oak notes in there as well, like vanilla. Anything in there touch your fancy, it all sounds delicious to me, see below for where to go for moderate or hot Syrahs.
Syrahs are often used in blends as well, it brings colour, tannin, acidity and dark fruit to the table. One of the most common blends is with Granache which adds some acidity, red fruit and some more spice to the mix. So, if you like spicy wine, a Syrah/Granache wine may just be your thing.
It is also often blending with Cab Savs, where the Shiraz is brought in to soften the Cab. I love a good Cab, and I love a good Shiraz so a blend can be perfect.
In addition to those red blends, Syrahs are often blended with Voignier grape (which is a white grape and will be discussed in the next blog). The Voignier smooths out the Syrah and adds some exotic fruits to the nose and palate. If you aren’t a big tannin lover, maybe give a Syrah blend with Voignier a go as the tannins are a bit smoother.
After all this chat, what do we call this wine? Syrah? Shiraz? As you see I have changed the word I used often throughout. Syrah is most commonly used in the old-world countries like France and Italy, and Shiraz is common in Australia and some other new world countries. There are so many different Syrah’s out there, don’t worry about what to call it, just get drinking it (responsibly of course).
- Moderate Climates: Northern Rhone, Victoria region of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and in some areas of Canada if the conditions of that particular land are right.
- Hot Climates: Southern France, Hunter Valley & Barossa regions of Australia, Chile and California