Description 1 of 2

Parentage: Offspring of Dureza & Mondeuse Blanche
Aliases: Shiraz, Hermitage, Antourenein Noir, Candive, Marsanne Noir...
Grape Color: Black
Regions: Rhone (France), California AVAs, Australia
Type(s) of Wine the Grape Produces:

Syrah. Shiraz. Sirac. Schiras. Marsanne Noir. The names can go on endlessly to describe one of the most powerful red wine-producing grapes in the world.

The irony here is that Syrah’s origins could give Carmen Sandiego a run for her international wallet. Syrah’s deepest rooted history lies in the Rhone region of Southwestern France, as the wines that made this varietal famous were from hermitage, located in northern Rhone. The name “Shiraz,” however, gained popularity in Australia where this dark-skinned varietal has long been heavily planted. The birthplace of Syrah is still unknown, with many legends linking together both its aliases, suggesting origins in Iran, Rhone, and Australia.

Syrah is used primarily for producing strong red wines. The world’s 7th most grown grape in 2004, it is used as a varietal just as often as it’s blended. Its high tannin content gives it the ability to influence powerfully flavored, full bodied wines. Syrah wines tend to have an intensely rich, chewy texture with dark violet and black hues. Aromas lean on the spicier side, rather than fruity. Syrah’s smoky attributes and its ability to flourish in a large range of climates gives winemakers the chance to put their artistry into full practice, defining Syrah wines by the terroir and flavors such as black cherry, pepper, and spice.

These concentrated flavors contribute today to classics like Australian Barossa Shiraz or Hermitage from the Rhone. As a blend, Syrah helps balance out the extremities of other varietals, resulting in ‘fuller’ wines. Syrah wines pair incredibly with heavy, ethnic foods, such as Indian or Mexican, bringing out just the right balance of exotic tastes.

This thick-skinned varietal has late-budding qualities, and is a mid-season ripener. Syrah wines are drinkable at an early age, and at 64 degrees Fahrenheit, they claim the warmest temperature any wine can be served at.

Today, Syrah maintains its presence as the primary wine grape of northern Rhone. We associate the name “Syrah” with classic wines, including Hermitage, Cornas, and Cote-Rotie.

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Description 2 of 2

Syrah (aka. Shiraz, Hermitage, Marsanne Noir)

The heat-loving Syrah grape variety has adapted well to both the warm venues of California, Southern Oregon and Washington, as well as to a revival in interest of robust and heavy red wines. Increasingly planted in many of North America's more prolific viticultural areas, it has been enthusiastically produced and marketed by a group of winemakers calling themselves the "Rhone Rangers".

This ancient varietal is native to the northern Rhône, where it produces the very long-lived, tannic and spicy red wines of AOCs Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, and Cornas. Further south, it provides weight and structure to the softer, more obviously fruity, Grenache-based reds of the Côtes du Rhône. Along with Mourvèdre, Syrah is an important component in the best examples of the southern Rhône’s most famous appellation, Châteauneuf du Pape.

Arguably, Syrah owes it dramatic 20th century rise in prominence to its incredible popularity and success in Australian vineyards, where it assumes the name Shiraz. The Australian versions tend to be much more intensely fruit driven with less hard-edged angularity in youth, despite possessing significant amounts of tannin and characteristic peppery spiciness. Shiraz’s combination of rich character and approachability in youth can largely be credited with securing Australia’s global reputation as a leading source of highly-characterful, value-priced wines.

During the Roman occupation of Gaul you rose to fame as a captive vine turned gladiator. Your legend grew in the spartan competition of Northern Rhône amphitheaters. But little did the Romans know; you had more than just brute tannic power. Behind your fiery, spicy attitude there was the soul of a great leader. You outlasted the Romans and eventually ruled the Rhone Valley from the hill of Hermitage. But your greatest victory was to come in the New World, as emperor of the masses ‘Down Under’. Never one to rest on past laurels, you have set your sights on America. It is only a matter of time before you conquer this continent, leading the charge of an imposing legion known as the "Rhone Rangers". – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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