About Shiraz and Syrah
The home of the Syrah grape in modern times is in the Northern part of France's Rhone Valley in the regions of Hermitage, Cote Roti and Cornas.
Australia calls the Syrah grape Shiraz where it reigns supreme since its introduction from France in 1832. These wines from Australia are rich and concentrated with very ripe black fruit flavours with big ripe tannins, well suited to big rich robust dishes - wild venison, beef and hearty casseroles with lots of flavour.
In New Zealand we call the variety Syrah, as the wines it produces in our cooler climate are stylistically closer to France than Australia. Syrah in New Zealand often has the appealing cooler climate fresh black pepper characters with ripe red fruit flavours and an attractive spicy note. The areas where New Zealand is having the most success with this variety are the Hawke’s Bay, particularly the area around the Gimblett Gravel region, and Waiheke Island - both areas that have enough heat to ripen the Syrah grapes properly.
Syrah can be very dark in colour, almost black-red. These can be powerful wines, especially those from Australia which can often be big and robust, suiting food that has big dominant flavours such as beef, venison or wild meats and aromatic cheeses. New Zealand Syrah is generally a little lighter in style matching a wide range of flavours from lamb to wild pork.
While Syrah is usually made as a single variety, it can be blended with other varieties. In the case of the variety Viognier, these grapes are often added in small volume to the fermenting Syrah to improve the bouquet and give the wine better colour stability.