What is Syrah/Shiraz?

Syrah, is a full-bodied red grape variety from the Rhône, which has cultivated an arguably even more famous second identity as Shiraz, Australia’s flagship red.

What does Syrah taste like? 

Syrah is widely associated with flavours of black pepper, violets, blackberries, black olive and, especially with age, a savoury, gamey character. The variety often combines intense fruit with high tannins. In warmer climates such as Australia’s Barossa Valley it can display richer flavours of dark chocolate and tar.  

Where is Syrah from? 

Syrah’s genetic roots lie in south-eastern France but it has long had a primary home in the Northern Rhône, where it may well have been cultivated since Roman times.  

Where does Syrah grow? 

Syrah is the world’s sixth most planted grape variety and a feature of many warm climate regions. The grape is most prolific in its native France and at its finest in the Northern Rhône. Syrah is also widely planted in the Southern Rhône and is increasingly popular in Languedoc blends. Syrah, or Shiraz, is believed to have reached Australia in the 1830s and today accounts for about a quarter of the country’s wine production. Much of the volume comes from the Riverland and Riverina regions, while some of the highest value Shiraz comes from Barossa and, increasingly, cooler regions such as Yarra Valley and Adelaide Hills. Elsewhere Syrah has particularly significant plantings in California, Washington State, Castilla-La Mancha, South Africa, Argentina and Chile. It has also found a small, but high quality niche in New Zealand’s Gimblett Gravels.  

Famous Syrah regions: 

  • Northern Rhône, Southern Rhône & Languedoc, France 
  • Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley, Yarra Valley & Hunter Valley, Australia  
  • Stellenbosch & Swartland, South Africa 
  • Elqui & San Antonio, Chile 
  • Washington State, US 
  • Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand 

Anything else? 

Syrah in the Northern Rhône is often lightened with a dash of the perfumed white grape Viognier. Further south, Syrah is most likely to appear in a blend, usually featuring Grenache, Mourvèdre and/or Carignan. In Australia, the Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blend is a national specialism. 

Our selection of great Syrah

  • Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Hermitage, Northern Rhône 
  • Guigal, Côte Rôtie, Northern Rhône 
  • Henschke, Eden Valley, Australia 
  • Penfolds, South Australia 
  • Clonakilla, Canberra, Australia 

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