How did Syrah become Shiraz in Australia?
I've heard that Shiraz is the Middle Eastern synonym for the grape Syrah. How did this become the standard name for the grape Down Under?
Among the 75 synonyms of Syrah, listed in the Vitis International Variety database, is "SCHIRAS". This varietal name was apparently common in the northern Rhone valley in the early 1800's, when James Busby made his first vine importations into Oz. The Australian penchant for refusing to speak French, and instead insisting on their special variety of English, probably accounts for the subsequent name change. [For major information overload, check out the non-special English language version of the database at: http://www.vivc.de/index.php]
Here in Los Angeles [aka Tehran West] all of our Iranian expats are convinced the variety originated in Shiraz, in their homeland, and was stolen/taken to France by Crusaders. No amount of fine argument, or excellent red wine can dissuade them. Recently, Italian researchers have identified Pinot noir as a parent of Syrah/Shiraz [along with the NE Italian varieties Lagrein & Teroldego]. In that the Pinot clan was well established in the Burgundy region by late Roman Empire times, the lovely story of an Iranian origin for Syrah/Shiraz, is thrown into the same phantasmagorical category as the contention that FitzGerald's translations of the Rubáiyát constitute poetry.
Feb 17, 2012 at 7:10pm
Have you ever heard an Australian speak? I rest my case.
Feb 17, 2012 at 4:55pm
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