This dark-skinned red grape most likely originated in France's Rhône Valley, which is still considered its most famous home. Syrah is the sole grape in the reds of the Northern Rhône Valley, but it's also a blending partner in Southern Rhône appellations, including Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where it adds structure and body to Grenache-based wines. The grape was brought to Australia in the 19th century, and is better-known there as Shiraz, which it's also sometimes called in South Africa.
Syrah is generally late-budding and mid-ripening, with vines that are reasonably resistant to disease. It does particularly well in stony soils, especially those with granite content, but also has success in clay, loam and calcareous earth.
Both Old and New World Syrahs are typically considered quite ageworthy. The grape shows notes of blackberry, plum and blueberry, as well as black pepper, olive, rosemary and lavender. Old World versions are somewhat leaner, emphasizing a savory character, while hot climates generally yield wines with riper, bolder fruit.
Where it's grown
- Rhône: M. Chapoutier, Jean-Louis Chave, A. Clape, E. Guigal
- Australia: Henschke, Penfolds, Torbreck
- California: Alban, Saxum, Sine Qua Non
- Washington: Cayuse, K
Suggested food pairings
- Rhône: roast leg of lamb
- Australia: beef burger