While Syrah is called Shiraz in Australia, and Syrah most everywhere else, both are essentially the same grape. It is popular today in Rhône blends, whether that’s in France’s Rhône Valley, Washington, Australia’s Barossa Valley, Chile, South Africa, or throughout California.
The grape was at one time prolific throughout Persia, however, its origin actually traces back to France’s Northern Rhône Valley.
Syrah is an offspring of two grapes: Dureza and Mondeuse blanche. A key grape in the GSM blend—Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre—Syrah expresses peppery, chocolate, and dark-red fruit notes. This blend is quite popular with wineries along California’s Central Coast.
Syrah is a perfect wine for aging as its nuances truly develop after 10 or 15 years in the bottle. One of the most expensive Syrahs and a frequent item at auction is from Sine Qua Non, a California cult winery. In 2008, these Syrahs (1990s vintages) were selling at auction for between $300 and $2,000 a bottle.
- Syrah plantings in France’s Rhône region drastically increased from 3,300 acres in 1958 to 86,000 acres by the mid-1990s
- It wasn’t until 2000 that Syrah earned a spot on the list of top 10 most planted wine-grape varietals
- Syrah is used to make sparkling Shiraz at a few Australian wineries