Known as Syrah in its home in the northern Rhone area in France, the grape became known as Shiraz in Australia and Shiraz is a name used world-wide interchangeably with Syrah.
The variety grows readily and ripens easily and hence it successfully produces full rich soft reds in different climates and locations.
In Australia, particularly South Australia, it developed a traditional style of its own – a high level of ripeness and resulting alcohol with an affinity for oak barrels, particularly where the oak type and oak handling adds a sweet aroma. Many older Australians and many wine lovers around the world think that this is the only offering of Shiraz from Australia.
In recent decades, the growth of colder climate production in Australia has exploded. Along with wines from southern Victoria, Adelaide Hills, southern WA, Canberra, the Granite Belt and other inland higher altitude cold regions – even Tasmania, there has been trends to wine making techniques seen in Pinot Noir production – inclusion of whole bunches and stems, natural yeast fermentation, natural settling and no filtration and little/background oak barrel influence.
This is a similar style to that made in regions such as Hermitage, Cote-Rotie and Saint-Joseph in the northern Rhone and often the Australian example is labelled Syrah rather than Shiraz to indicate a different style to the traditional SA taste. A similar attitude is seen in Hawkes Bay NZ, Chile, Central California and South Africa.
There is a wonderful diversity of Shiraz and Syrah – join the celebration of World Syrah day!
Find out more about Shiraz here!
Andrew Corrigan – Master of Wine and Queensland Wine Industry Association President