Today is International Shiraz Day 2022 and as always we’re telling you everything you need to know about the varietal and sharing a recommendation from a French wine importer.
Shiraz also known as Syrah and so many other names
Shiraz is the same grape as Syrah and is also known as Antourenein noir, Balsamina, Candive, Entournerein, Hermitage, Hignin noir, Marsanne noir, Schiras, Sira, Sirac, Sirah, Syra, Syrac, Serine, and Sereine.
A feminine grape
In the French language, the majority of grapes are seen as masculine and take “le”. However, syrah is an exception being one of the rare feminine grapes which therefore takes “la”.
Shiraz grapes are deep red in colour and small in size. They can be round, but have also been referred to as egg-shaped. They have a short ripening period.
Shiraz grapes produce wines that are rich and full-bodied higher in alcohol than other reds. French-grown Syrah are known to have flavours of dark berries and fruit with a distinct peppery/spice note. Whereas in Australia, Shiraz grapes are said to produce wines which “can taste of baked pencils in the Hunter Valley, chocolate in the Barossa Valley (arguably its spiritual home), and black pepper in cooler regions such as Macedon in Victoria” according to Jancis Robinson, wine writer and wine critic.
A 1998 study concluded, from grape reference material and DNA studies, that syrah (shiraz) was the offspring of two now obscure grape varietals – Dureza (the father) and Mondeuse blanche (the mother). Dureza is from Ardèche but has largely disappeared today. Mondeuse Blanc on the other hand is from the Savoy region and can still be found there today.
Shiraz is half sibling to Mondeuse which comes from Mondeuse Blanche (Shiraz’ Mum) and Tressot.
Durif (also known as Petite Syrah, Petite Sirah) comes from Peloursin and Syrah.
Shiraz in France
France has the largest shiraz plantings in the world. In 2007, it had 68,600 hectares!
Blends or single varietals
In France, you’re more likely to find shiraz in a blend whereas in Australia it is favoured as a single varietal.
Australia’s favourite wine
Shiraz is Australia’s most popular varietal. It’s Australia’s most planted grape-variety – there being 40,000 hectares of plantings existing in 2018. In comparison, Cabernet sauvignon, Australia’s 2nd most planted grape variety is significantly less with 25,000 hectares.
Some argue that Australian plantings of Shiraz pre-dates the James Busby Collection in the early 1830s! The Barossa Valley has the largest single quantity of ungrafted, pre-phylloxera Shiraz vineyards.
Shiraz in Australia
Australian wineries crushed 538,402 tonnes of Shiraz in 2021 (27% of total crush, 46% of red varieties) according to Wine Australia National Vintage Report 2021
In the regions:
- in the Barossa Valley, Shiraz made up 74.8% of the estimated total value all grapes in 2021.
- in Coonawarra Shiraz represented 27.7% of total value of all grapes
- in McLaren Vale 68.7%. of estimated total value of all grapes.
Sparkling shiraz is a truly Australian creation. From the 1980s and 1990s, shiraz was made into traditional method sparkling wines. It is served cold and, in some families, is a Christmas Day tradition.
An Australian idea
International Shiraz Day was actually created by Australians to celebrate the grape known as Syrah in the Northern Hemisphere, which has its own celebration in February (read our article from Feb here). Shiraz is celebrated on the 4th Thursday in July each year. International Shiraz Day 2022 marks the third year of the celebration.
INTERNATIONAL SHIRAZ DAY 2022 RECOMMENDATION
Ashleigh of Clos Cachet recommends a French Syrah for International Shiraz Day 2022.:Jean-Luc Jamet – IGP Syrah “Valine” 2019 – $69
Jean-Luc Jamet ensures a high quality in all his wines by limiting yields to avoid any stress on the vine. By harvesting late in the season, and all by hand, you can taste the delicate nature of his wines. I truly enjoy this bottle as Jean-Luc’s expertise in selecting a late harvest date really serves to obtain the best fruity flavours, something that I have not found in many Rhône Valley wines. This Syrah “Valine” is exquisite, profound with hints of violet flowers. The nose is lifted and intense, displaying hints of five spice, blue fruits, violet and smoked bacon. The palate is very silky displaying again a great intensity with a long length.
What would you pair with this wine?
A delicious dish to pair with this Syrah is Wagyu beef, nicely braised with glazed carrots. Alternatively a nice charcuterie board with eggplant dip and smoked meats pairs beautifully.
How does French Syrah differ from Australian Shiraz?
Generally speaking, Shiraz is grown in the warmer climates and the name Syrah is championed in the cooler climates. Therefore, the term Shiraz is highly popular in Australia within the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills where there is an average of higher temperatures. This brings forth more fruit-forward and jam-like aromas, bolder with less dry elements.
What’s your favourite Shiraz food pairing?
For more French wine articles, check out the below: