Nov 10, 2023Eden Hargreaves

Parentage or Syrah

The Syrah grape is the offspring of two rather un-famous parental varietals and neither has ever gained any fame, quite like that of Syrah, the Mondeuse blanche (mother) and the Dureza (father). Mondeuse blanche a white grape from the Savoy region, though not widely known, is still cultivated in small amounts within the region’s vineyards today. The Dureza, a dark-skinned grape that has all but disappeared is currently under preservation and a specialty in Montpellier, originated from the Ardèche region of France.

Though despite knowing the parentage, it still remains unclear the age of the Syrah grape, but it is considered to be centuries old. However, as both parents hail from a very limited area in Southeast France, which is close to the Northern area of Rhône, researchers have concluded that Syrah did indeed originate from this area in Rhône.

Syrah or Shiraz, what’s the difference?

Syrah or Shiraz? Same grape just known by different names around world, usually dependent on where the wine originates from either the ‘Old World’ or ‘New World’.

Syrah is how its known in its country of origin and other Old-World countries, as well as Argentina, New-Zealand, South Africa, and Chile. Shiraz is the name that this dark-skinned grape has become to be known by in Australia and few other New-World Countries. However in Australia it wasn’t always referred to by this name, prior to being known as Shiraz, it was known as Hermitage. Though in the 1980’s Hermitage become a French Protected Designation of Origin, which lead to the name change and Shiraz being adopted.

The grape is known by a few other names around the world, notably including Antourenein noir, Balsamina, Candive, Entournerein, Hignin noir, Marsanne noir, Schiras, Sirac, Syra, Syrac, Serine, and Sereine.

Legend of Syrah

Even though research has concluded the origins of Syrah to be in Rhône, there is still a rather interesting legend that shrouds Syrah and how it came to be in Rhone. The legend has it that Syrah is connected to the former capital city of the Persian Empire, Shiraz, where it was well known for producing Shirazi wine, and it is this grape that was then later brought across to Rhône. However, there are a few versions to this story which differ with up to a 1800 years span.

Version 1 – in 600BC the Phocaeans brought Syrah to their colony around Marseilles in France, then known as Massilia. And thus later the grape spread to Rhône because of this colony, however the Phocaeans never colonized Rhône. There is also no documented proof of this legend also it means that the grape would have also completely vanished without a trace from the Marseilles region!

Version 2: Syrah’s connected to the city of Shiraz in modern day Iran, then Persia, this comes from a neighbourhood tale from the Rhône area, saying the plant was brought by one of the mountain hermits from Shiraz in Persia to the area.

Version3: Is based on the name Syrah and as such it was brought in 28AD from Syracuse by Probus the Roman Emperor at the time. This version also lacks any kind of documented proof.

Version 4: this version has to do more with Shiraz the name by which the the grape is known by in Australia. In early Australian documentation, Scyras, was the name used to describe the grape and name Shiraz may have come from the uses of strinization of Syrah via Scyras. (strine or stryne, is the description of a broad English Australian accent and the pronunciation and changing of vowels). Since then, Hermitage and Shiraz gradually replace the uses of the name ‘Scyras’ and it is also noted that the uses of the name Shiraz has nothing to do with the ancient Persian city.

Tasting notes of Syrah

The Syrah grape often produce full-bodied wines with a powerfully flavour. The varietal’s wide range of flavours often include dark berries, chocolate, black pepper, and violets. The notes tasted in Syrah are dependent on where the grape is grown, and viticultural practices used. We have a range of Syrah wines on offer from both the Old and New Worlds, as stand-alone varietals or in blends, visit our dedicated Syrah / Shiraz page to view all. 

If you are new to Syrah / Shiraz (not to be confused with Petite Sirah, which is another varietal, though related to Syrah it is not the same grape) we recommend trying any of the following:

Old-World Syrah

Carus Vini Tespero Syrah Toscana IGT 2016, intense and complex with aromas of wild berries, blackberries, cassis and raspberries with hints of spice and minerality. This wine is an explosion of feeling and senses and is one for those while bigger reds that are not too weighty

Julien's Rouge 2021, shows jammy notes of overripe strawberry, raspberry, and plum combine with a silky creaminess to give a nose of Victoria sponge cake! Yet, on the palate the raspberry is sizzling with acidity and fresh fruit, and delicate, soft tannins create a wine that keeps you topping up your glass.

New-World Syrah

Benguela Cove Lighthouse Syrah 2019, alures with delicious dark fruit, a rich perfume and a savoury glaze with hints of pepper and smoke. Ripe tannins add structure with a youthful freshness to perch the bold fruit.

Les Gosses 2018, displays classic characters of red tart fruits, blueberry pancakes, black pepper, fresh ground cumin seed, and hint of vanilla, dark cocoa powder and chilli powder. The entry is tart with a lot of fruit and spice flavours. There is a slight aggression on the mid-palate which leads to a smooth and creamy finish.

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