Two names: one great grape

Two names: one great grape

Summer 2019


Syrah – Shiraz … whatever you call it, this French/Aussie varietal can mix ’n’ match or stand tall on its own

Syrah, the great red grape of the northern Rhône, produces such superstars as Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie as well as Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage and Cornas. At their best, these long ageing wines are dark, dense and immensely concentrated with flavours of spice, leather, tar, game and blackberries. 

In the southern Rhône and the vast Languedoc, Syrah has enjoyed an extraordinary surge in popularity. Here it’s not consumed so much as a single varietal but as a component adding complexity and structure to blends that include Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsaut.

The grape has also flourished in Australia since the first half of the 19th century, where it has always been identified as Shiraz, a name that may be better known to many consumers than the French original. Typically, Aussie Shiraz shows riper fruit and suppler texture than the Rhône examples.

Quick facts

• Syrah/Shiraz represents about 10% of the red wine produced in the Okanagan

• Penfolds Grange (shiraz) is Australia’s most famous and long-lived wine 

• Rhône Rangers: American winemakers producing Rhône varietals (Bonny doon)

• More Rhône — Gigondas, Lirac, Vacqueyras

• More Midi — Coteaux du Languedoc, Corbières, Vin de Pays d’Oc

Best way to enjoy

Food pairings: Hearty dishes: intensely-flavoured stews, meaty casseroles; Rich roasted meats: game, beef, lamb; Char-grilled meats; Baked dishes made with lamb, beef, pork, duck, sausages; Hard cheeses like an aged cheddar

Temperature: 18 to 21 C

Type of glass: good quality, large bowled, stemmed 

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About The Author

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Michael Botner

Wine columnist for Okanagan Life Magazine, Michael Botner authors our High Spirits feature. Trained as a chartered accountant, Michael now devotes his time and energy to Accounting for Taste, a company dedicated to demystifying wine. As a wine consultant, Michael has chaired a number of international wine competitions. More posts