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Hanging Syrah Grapes

Get to Know Grapes: Syrah

The essentials:  

  • Native to the Rhône Valley in France, Syrah has a white parent, Mondeuse Blanche, and a red parent called Dureza
  • Grape DNA fingerprinting shows that Pinot Noir is likely Syrah’s great-grandparent
  • Related to Viognier, and it is sometimes blended with a small percentage  of this fragrant white grape
  • Very vigorous and has a short ripening period between when grapes begin to colour and harvest; does not like cold winters
  • Travelled to Australia in the 1830s where it is usually called Shiraz, but genetically identical to Syrah
  • Can live to be very old, and Australia has some of the world’s oldest Syrah vines
  • Black fruit flavours, medium to high acid depending on climate , medium to full tannins, best wines can age for decades
  • Blends brilliantly with grapes like Grenache and Mourvedre in the Southern Rhone Valley, and Cabernet  in Australia

Where is Syrah grown?

186,000 hectares total world-wide, making it the 6th most planted wine grape, with significant plantings in these countries:

  • France: 68,500 hectares
  • Australia: 43,900 hectares (Barossa has 5,300 hectares and McLaren Vale has 2,800 hectares)
  • Argentina: 12,900 hectares
  • South Africa: 10,000 hectares
  • Spain: 3,000 hectares
  • California: 7,803 hectares
  • Washington State: 1,256 hectares
  • Chile: 3,370 hectares
  • Turkey: 1,489hectares
  • Italy: 1,039 hectares
  • British Columbia: 221 hectares
  • Myanmar: 2 hectares

Important regions:

France: Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, Cornas; blended with other grapes in  Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras

Australia: Barossa, McLaren Vale, Hunter Valley

California: Paso Robles

Syrah is fairly new in British Columbia, but makes undeniably delicious and interesting wines. Nichol Vineyards planted Canada's first Syrah vines back in the early 1990s.  A shorter growing season and cold winter temperatures are definite challenges, but ambitions are high for this red Rhone thoroughbred. British Columbia examples tend to have wonderful bright natural acidity which balances ripe black/red fruit, cracked black pepper, savoury meaty notes, and often a sagebrush nuance.

Try a selection of Syrah wines to get to know one of the world’s outstanding grapes.

British Columbia:

Orofino Scout Vineyard Syrah 2013

Poplar Grove Syrah 2013

C.C. Jentsch Syrah 2013

Marcus Ansems Shiraz 2014

Nichol  Syrah 2012

Moraine Syrah 2014

 

France:

J.L. Chave - Côtes-du-Rhône Mon Coeur 2014

Vincent Paris - Granit 30° 2014

 

Australia:

Two Hands Gnarly Dudes 2012

St. Hallett Gamekeeper’s Shiraz Grenache 2014

Longview Yakka Shiraz 2014

 

California:

Arnot-Roberts Syrah 2014

 

*Cover image: "SILENI ESTATES WINERY" by Norio NAKAYAMACC BY-SA 2.0

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