Guide to Wine

Guide to Syrah Wines & Australian Shiraz Wines

Shiraz Grapes
Shiraz Grapes

Syrah [See-rah] (or Shiraz [Shih-RAHZ] in Australia) is relatively easy to grow and produces wines from the easy-drinking, fresh style to the intense, full-bodied and highly concentrated style. The traditional flavors of Syrah include dense red and dark berry, violet, tar, pepper and spice. Syrah is widely planted around the world, although it seems to flourish in Australia, Washington State and in Rhône Valley of France. Most consumers are not aware that Syrah dominates the northern Rhône, producing the renowned and lush Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage.

Aromas

  • Fruit – Blackcurrant, Cherry, Blackberry, Plum, Raisin
  • Oak – Oak, Cedar, Smoke, Vanilla, Spice, Pepper
  • Complex – Chocolate, Coffee, Tobacco, Earth, Herb

Flavors

  • Fruit – Blackcurrant, Cherry, Blackberry, Plum, Raisin
  • Oak – Oak, Cedar, Smoke, Vanilla, Spice, Pepper
  • Complex – Chocolate, Coffee, Tobacco, Earth, Herb

Styles

  • Fresh Fruit/Easy Drinking – Filled with bright, fresh fruit and easy drinking
  • Intense Fruit/Ripe Tannins – Great fruit flavors and medium bodied with detectable tannins
  • Highly Concentrated Fruit/Firm Tannins – Full bodied and dense with loads of fruit flavors and ample tannins

Food

  • Fresh Fruit/Easy Drinking – Aperitifs, Light Cheese
  • Intense Fruit/Ripe Tannins – Lamb, Venison
  • Highly Concentrated Fruit/Firm Tannins – Red Meat

Regions

  • France – Northern Rhône – Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, Cornas, Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage
  • Australia – McLaren Valley, Hunter Valley, Barossa Washington State – Columbia Valley
  • California – Central Coast, Amador, Napa Valley

The most popular form of Syrah is produced in Australia, where the grape is known as Shiraz. First planted in the mid-19th Century, Shiraz is Australia’s most popular and widely planted red wine grape. The moderately priced examples from wineries such as Victoria’s Crest, Yellow Tail, Gumdale, Wyndham Estate and Rosemount have become best sellers in the United States. They are rich, ripe, soft, hearty red wines with intense berry fruit flavors. From its oldest Shiraz vineyards, Australian wineries also produce exceptional collector’s items such as Penfolds “Grange” and Rufus Stone. These are unbelievably intense, thick, concentrated, long-lived wines that rival the great French Syrah-based wines of Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.

Most consumers are not aware that Syrah is the principle grape of the great northern Rhône. The wines here, like Australia, vary from the fresh, ripe, hearty, everyday-drinking style such as the Cave de Tain Syrah and Crozes-Hermitage to the incredibly complex, dense and tannic reds of Cave de Tain Saint-Joseph and Hermitage.

Most recently, world-class results have come from Washington State. Apex and Bridgman Syrah are prime examples of intensely fruity wines with rich complexity.

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