Shiraz/Syrah - whats the difference?
There are a few varieties of wine that taste almost identical, yet have different names. Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio, Sparkling Wine and Champagne and the newly popular Shiraz and Syrah are a few of these mystery names of wine. So what’s the difference between a Shiraz and a Syrah? Like most differences in wine names, the answer is Location Location Location.
Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape, but from different locations in the world. The name Shiraz is only used for the Syrah grapes grown in Australia. Every other Syrah is known as Syrah. (The Californians have adopted the Shiraz name for marketing purposes, but it is widely known that real Shiraz comes from the Aussies.)
Producers throughout the New World and Mediterranean Europe are planting new vineyards and nurturing old ones that have been forgotten in the past years while merlot and cabernets have been the wine of choice. What’s sparked this revitalization of grapes like shiraz/syrah? People are looking full-bodied, spicy wines and there is no better varietals than shiraz/syrah.
Syrah’s home is in the Rhone Valley in France where the berry fruit is dense, inky and more herbal, the acidity is higher and the aroma hints of fresh ground pepper. Syrah can gain complex leathery gamey flavors as it matures. Shiraz is grounded mainly in the Barossa Valley of Australia. The Australian Shiraz is from what’s thought to be from the greatest plantings of Shiraz in the world is found.
In the old vines Shiraz from Australia the grapes are riper, fuller and there is a rich, mouth-filling chocolaty character with a spicy element. The Shiraz wines are intense but more succulent and have a better longevity than it’s counterparts. Shiraz’s made in the southern part of Australia are known for their peppery taste, rarely found in any other wines.
Syrah/Shiraz doesn’t only make expensive, top of the line wines. In Australia where it has regained its position as the most planted red grape, it is responsible for masses of everyday, smooth, spicy, blackberry flavored reds. It is also blended very successfully with cabernet sauvignon at all quality levels and is made into a delicious, full bodied, ripe, spicy red wine.
So whether you’re drinking a Syrah or Shiraz, get ready for a bold, spicy, big red that is perfect on its own, or paired with aggressively prepared foods. Look for Syrahs from South Africa, Chile and Argentina in the coming years, there have been successful plantings in the past years and with the complexity of today’s Syrah’s these will be just as great.
About the Author: John Gibb is the owner of Wine guides
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