Shiraz or Syrah originates from southeast France. While the history of this variety can be traced back over 5000 years, Shiraz wines really came to prominence in France during the 18th century.
Legend has it that the variety was first introduced to France in the 13th century by the French knight, Gaspard de Sterimberg. During a Crusade, the knight discovered the grape near the city of Shiraz in Persia and brought his discovery back home to France.
However recent DNA testing conducted by the University of California has shown that the variety is a native of the Rhone Valley in France and not as the legend tells it, Persia.
Shiraz or Syrah
Whether the wine label says Shiraz or Syrah, it refers to the same grape variety (Vitis vinifera ‘Syrah’, if you want to be scientific) and can be used interchangeably. That being said, generally, the distinction between the two is a matter of regional expression and style.
While Old World wines have traditionally named their wines ‘Syrah’, New World wines tend to favour ‘Shiraz’ in their naming conventions. Notwithstanding, the cooler climate Shiraz wines in the New World sometimes also use ‘Syrah’, as their cooler climate Shiraz shares the leaner, more savoury style of an Old World French Syrah.
Popular Growing Regions
While Shiraz originated from France, over the years Shiraz has grown to be one of the most popular varieties in the world and can be found growing in all major wine-producing nations including Italy, Spain, Argentina, South Africa, Chile, the United States, and of course Australia.
Viticulture & Winemaking
The Shiraz grape is quite versatile when it comes to climate. Whether it is a warmer, dryer climate such as the Barossa Valley, which produces a bigger, bolder and more fruit-driven wine, or cool climates such as Eden Valley, or Victoria, which produce wines that are comparatively leaner, more delicate and savoury.
Popular Regions in Australia
The Shiraz grape is Australia’s most planted variety; therefore can be found in almost every wine region. However, there are some standouts when it comes to the best and most reliable regions if you’re searching for a great Shiraz.
The premier region for Australian Shiraz, home to some of the oldest and most well-known brands. The Barossa style of Shiraz is rich, full-bodied and packed with flavour. If you like a Shiraz that is big, bold and driven by dark red fruit flavours, then you will be spoiled for choice by the abundance of fabulous Barossa Shiraz options.
While the Eden Valley is located within the greater Barossa region, the Shiraz it produces has a very different flavour profile. Due to the Eden Valley’s higher elevation, the region is much cooler than the valley floor (Barossa Valley), therefore, its cool climate wines, have smoother, silkier tannins, a more delicate palate and greater elegance in style and structure.
The Clare Valley benefits from its long, hot days and cool nights, this climate allows for better flavour development within the grape as well as optimal acid retention. While the region is most known for its Riesling, the Clare Valley also produces incredible Shiraz that is structural while boasting complex flavours.
The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest wine region, and given its proximity to Sydney, it is likely one of the most visited regions by domestic and international tourists. While the climate in the Hunter may be warm, it does not have massive heat spikes during the day, meaning the region produces a milder Shiraz wine that is medium-bodied and leans towards a more savoury profile, as opposed to the fruit-driven flavours of somewhere like the Barossa.
McLaren Vale is another region that has developed a strong reputation for the quality of its Shiraz. The typical McLaren Vale Shiraz is full-bodied, with rich fruit flavours, and finished with subtle hints of bitter mocha or chocolate. As McLaren Vale is bordered by the ocean, the sea breezes benefit the region with a more dynamic climate, which is reflected in the versatility and variety of styles in McLaren Vale Shiraz.
Shiraz is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Yarra Valley, but the variety has been steadily growing in the region. Its cool climate allows for a longer ripening period, developing elegant and aromatic flavours within the grape. Yarra’s cool climate Shiraz continues to gain popularity through its medium body, soft, silky tannins and complex flavour profiles, and because of this style, the wines are often labelled ‘Syrah’ paying homage to the variety’s Old World origins.
A young, well-made shiraz will typically feature deep ruby colours. However, with age, the colour will change over time, from ruby to a more rusty red colour.
Depending on the region and style of the wine, Shiraz or Syrah could contain a myriad of different Aromas, including red fruits, blackberry, plum, chocolate, tobacco, peppers, cloves, dried flowers, and even leather.
A warmer climate Shiraz from regions such as the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale will develop higher levels of sugar, a fuller body, more intense tannins, and higher alcohol. Whereas a cooler climate Shiraz from regions such as the Eden Valley or Yarra Valley will produce a Shiraz with a more medium body, silkier tannins, and a more savoury profile.
16 – 18 degrees
Charcuterie, grilled and roasted meats (lamb, beef and game), stews and casseroles, firm, aged cheeses.
Storage & Cellaring
A typical Shiraz could age anywhere between 5 to 20 years, Store in a dark spot with a temperature between 12-14 degrees and maintain a humidity level of about 50%.
If you're a fan of Australian Shiraz why not explore our Shiraz range, estate grown and meticulously crafted, our award winning wines are designed to over deliver and impress in any occasion.
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