International Syrah Day: How is Shiraz different to Syrah?
Most of us can discern what makes the hundreds of red wine varieties out there different, but what about when it comes to the same grape?
Wine can be hugely intimidating – there are thousands of grape varieties and to make matters even more confusing, some wines are named after the place they come from, rather than the actual grape!
A classic example of this is Syrah (sih-rah) and Shiraz (shuh-raz). Did you know that these are actually two red wine styles made from the same grape?
Today is International Syrah Day, so what better time than to delve into the similarities and differences between Syrah and Shiraz!
So what is Syrah?
Syrah is the traditional name for this grape variety and was first made thousands of years ago in ancient Rome.
Recent studies show Syrah was created incredibly from the spontaneous reproduction of Mondeuse Blanche and Dureza – varieties local to Rhône in France, home to some of the most famous Syrah wines in the world.
The French label their Syrah wines based on where they are grown (this is known as the ‘appellation’), and with complete disregard for the grape variety used. This is why you often see French wines called Hermitage or Côte Rôtie – world-renowned Rhône appellations that produce 100% Syrah wines.
Wines labelled as 'Syrah' in other countries apart from France usually stylistically refer to 'Old World' expression – that is, they are often grown in cooler, moderate climates and show a lighter body and finer tannin structure.
Characteristics of these Syrah wines are usually pepper, spice and savoury, with floral perfumed aromas and bright red and black fruits.
How about Shiraz?
So Shiraz is the exact same grape variety as Syrah – it’s just made in a different style!
The grape variety was brought to our shores in 1831, where it has since excelled, with Australia now renowned as one of the best producers of Shiraz.
The initial plantings of Shiraz here were in very warm regions like the Barossa Valley, and so the variety was typified by full-bodied, riper, fruit-forward styles.
This has meant that wines labelled Shiraz here often refer to this 'New World' style, exhibiting bigger, bolder characters.
These wines are usually fruit-forward, with characteristics such as ripe blueberries and blackberries, cherries and plums. Australian Shiraz is often aged in new French or American oak, generating dark chocolate, mocha and toasty notes.
Did you know?
Syrah/Shiraz is the sixth most planted variety in the world. A hugely popular wine, it can at times polarise, with many drinkers preferring either a big Aussie Shiraz or a more refined 'Old World' Syrah.
Fun fact: There is a growing trend for 'New World' producers in cooler climate areas across Australia (and other countries such as New Zealand and the United States) to produce lighter, more elegant shiraz in the Rhône style, and consequently calling them 'Syrah' on the label.
Shiraz from around Australia
From the cool-climate Pyrenees in Victoria and Frankland River in our Great Southern, to the Mediterranean climate of Margaret River and the hotter Perth Hills, here's what some people in the know have said about four of our delicious, world-class Shiraz.
2022 Deep Woods Estate Shiraz et al
"The addition of Malbec gives it that x-factor, the underpants on the outside, superhero style. Lowly high notes of blue fruits with a floral violet lift. It's spicy and at the same time refreshing, smooth with silky tannins. Massively drinkable. I absolutely love this wine; it has become very popular and is so well received."
– Deep Woods Estate Chief Winemaker Julian Langworthy
Most like: New World Shiraz
2019 Evans & Tate Redbrook Estate Shiraz
“Hand-picked, 90% whole bunches, wild ferment, matured for 9 months in old, large-format French oak. This kind of vinification should be more widespread in Margaret River, where the shiraz fruit doesn't respond as well to heavy doses of oak as it does in South Australia. It's a different beast here, responding to a soft hand, and this wine is testament to the goods that such an attitude can yield. Spicy, silky and plump: this is an elegant wine and it has been treated as such.”
– 94 points, Erin Larkin, Halliday Wine Companion 2023
Most like: New World Shiraz
2020 Millbrook Single Vineyard Shiraz
"This is one of an increasing number of stunning shiraz emerging from Frankland River and redefining this region for a distinctive style of shiraz. It’s a wild and crazy ride through black fruits, licorice, dark plum and chocolate with a slightly ferrous ironstone core adding to its complexity. An exciting wine with a great future."
– 95 points, Ray Jordan Wine Guide 2023
Most like: Somewhere in between!
2019 Dalwhinnie Mesa Shiraz
“Very deep, bright red/purple colour. Spicy, peppery, fresh earth and red fruit aromas of some complexity, especially considering its youth. The wine is medium to full-bodied and soft-textured, with no shortage of tannin, but the texture is supple and drying, the fine-grained powery tannins augmenting the savoury flavours. There is abundant fruit within but the overall style is savoury, food friendly and very stylish. Very long aftertaste. Great value.”
– 94 points, Huon Hooke, The Real Review 2022
Most like: Old World Syrah
Shop all Fogarty Wine Group Shiraz wines here.