Syrah or Shiraz is a dark-skinned grape grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce powerful red wines. Whether sold as Syrah or Shiraz, these wines enjoy great popularity.
Syrah is used as a varietal and is also blended. Following several years of strong planting, Syrah was estimated in 2004 to be the world’s 7th most grown grape at 142,600 hectares (352,000 acres). DNA profiling in 1999 found Syrah to be the offspring of two obscure grapes from southeastern France, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. It should not be confused with Petite Sirah, a synonym for Durif, a cross of Syrah with Peloursin dating from 1880.
Syrah is widely used to make a dry red table wine, which can be both varietal or blended. Four main uses can be distinguished:
* Varietal Syrah or Shiraz. Of the better-known wines, this is the style of Hermitage in northern Rhône or Australian Shiraz.
* Syrah blended with a small amount of Viognier. This is the traditional style of Côte-Rôtie in northern Rhône. Syrah as a roughly equal blending component for Cabernet Sauvignon. In modern times, this blend originated in Australia, so it is often known as Shiraz-Cabernet.
* Syrah as a minor blending component for Grenache and Mourvèdre. This is the traditional style of Châteauneuf-du-Pape of southern Rhône, and this blend is often referred to as GSM in Australia.
* Smaller amounts of Syrah are also used in the production of other wine styles, such as rosé wine, fortified wine in Port wine style, and sparkling red wine. While Australian sparkling Shiraz traditionally have had some sweetness, a number of Australian winemakers also make a full-bodied sparkling dry Shiraz, that contains the complexity and sometimes earthy notes that are normally found in still wine.
Due to their concentrated flavours and high tannin content, many premium Syrah wines are at their best after some considerable bottle aging. In exceptional cases, this may be 15 years or longer.
Syrah has one of the highest recommended wine serving temperatures at 65 °F (18 °C).
Wines made from Syrah are often powerfully flavoured and full-bodied. The variety produces wines with a wide range of flavor notes, depending on the climate and soils where it is grown, as well as other viticultural practices chosen. Aroma characters can range from violets to berries (usually dark as opposed to red), chocolate, espresso and black pepper. No one aroma can be called “typical” though blackberry and pepper are often noticed. With time in the bottle these “primary” notes are moderated and then supplemented with earthy or savory “tertiary” notes such as leather and truffle. “Secondary” flavor and aroma notes are those associated with several things, generally winemakers’ practices (such as oak barrel and yeast regimes).