Syrah - Shiraz

Shiraz

 

Known as Shiraz or Syrah depending where it is grown, this versatile grape variety has become a staple part of many producers portfolios across the world. In Australia Shiraz is by far the most important variety, making up nearly 30% of total plantings of around 40,000 hectares under vine. It is planted in all regions of Australia as well as most in New Zealand and many across the US. Originating from the Rhône Valley in France where Shiraz is an important variety of famous names such as Chateauneuf Du Pape, Hermitage, Cote-Rotie and St-Joseph. Shiraz can be found as a single variety in France showing dark fruits and spice but also blended, sometimes with Viognier but most often with Grenache and Mourvedre creating the famed GSM blend that has also crossed continents to become a staple of several regions across Australia and the US.

One of the most famous regions in the world for Shiraz is Barossa in Australia, where it can create rich, concentrated, full bodied wines with a velvet texture, from some of the most ancient vines in the world. There are many famous names in Barossa and too many to list but some leading examples who craft quintessential Barossa Shiraz are names like Dan Standish, Hobbs of Barossa Ranges, Hentley Farm and Two Hands.

The Barossa Shiraz made Australia famous but it is also planted, and fine examples produced, across the country in regions like McLaren Vale which has a warm climate similar to Barossa and consequently produces a style that is also similar with rich fruit and some earthiness. Producers like Kay Brothers have been working with this variety since the 1800s and Clarendon Hills focus on single vineyard expressions from sub-regions across Mclaren Vale.

Heathcote is another warm region that results in Shiraz of density and power. Wild Duck Creek being instrumental in raising the region’s profile for high quality wines. Eden Valley is part of the Barossa region but cooler than the Barossa Valley due to a higher altitude, Henschke and Two Hands exploiting the region’s qualities creating Shiraz that is dense and dark with a notably firmer structure than Barossa.

In Margaret River Shiraz becomes more refined showing dark fruits but not as rich and full bodied as Australia’s warmer areas. The region is also cool enough to produce Rosé from Shiraz with Deep Woods producing some fine examples of these as well as reds. In Tasmania we see the spice and pepper profile of Shiraz show with great perfume and red fruits. Glaetzer-Dixon produces award winning Shiraz, his Mon-Pere Shiraz winning the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy.

In the USA where it is more commonly known as Syrah, you can find it across California from Santa Barbara to Sonoma. The style is powerful and complex, showing off what this grape can offer from such producers as Stolpman, Ramey, Paul Lato and DuMol. In Washington the style is powerful, structured and dense with a dark fruit profile and is sometimes found as a Rhône style blend with Gramercy Cellars leading the way with both.

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