International Syrah Day: discover the wine and some recommendations

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Today is International Syrah Day. To celebrate, we are telling you all about Syrah and sharing some recommendations for French Syrah given by French wine importers in Australia.

Jump straight to the recommendations

 

What is syrah?

Syrah is one of the names for a grape used in the making of a red wine of the same name, or Shiraz as it’s more commonly known in Australia.

The grapes are known for their deep red colour and small in size. They can be round, but have also been referred to as egg-shaped. Syrah has a short ripening period.

With the use of DNA studies and grape reference material, a 1998 study concluded that Syrah 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.

Syrah grapes - International Syrah Day

 

What does it taste like?

Syrah produces rich and full-bodied higher alcohol wine with flavours of dark berries and fruit with a distinct peppery/spice note. Or at least that is particularly true of the wines made from French-grown syrah. In Australia, where it is mostly known as Shiraz, it is 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.

 

What’s in a name?

Syrah is known by many other synonyms, including most commonly Shiraz. It is also known as Antourenein noir, Balsamina, Candive, Entournerein, Hermitage, Hignin noir, Marsanne noir, Schiras, Sira, Sirac, Sirah, Syra, Syrac, Serine, and Sereine.

 

Where syrah is grown

Syrah (shiraz) is Australia’s most planted grape-variety with 40,000 hectares of plantings existing in 2018. Cabernet sauvignon, Australia’s 2nd most planted grape variety is significantly less with 25,000 hectares.

 

Apart from France and Australia, Syrah is also grown in many wine regions around the world such as Argentina, California, central Italy, Chile, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Washington State.

 

Volume of plantings in France

In France, syrah is the fourth most planted grape variety with 64,000 hectares. It was third to merlot, ugni blanc (more commonly known as Toscano globally) and Grenache Noir according to a report by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine based on 2015 figures.

 

Syrah is also used in the Southern Rhône Valley (Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages, Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Lirac, etc.).

 

In addition, it’s found in:

  • most of the appellations in Languedoc (Corbières, Costières de Nîmes, Coteaux du Languedoc, Faugères, Fitou, Minervois, Saint-Chinian, etc.),
  • Provence (Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, Coteaux des Baux, Coteaux varois, etc.).
  • Roussillon (Côtes du Roussillon, Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, etc.) ; and
  • increasing use in Vin de Pays growing areas and in vineyards in the Southwest (Côtes du Frontonnais, Gaillac,)

 

Wines produced from Syrah in France

Whereas in Australia, Syrah is used as a single-varietal, in France, it is most often used in blends. In Cornas, it is the only varietal permitted for the making of red wines.

In the appellations of Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage and Saint-Joseph, syrah is blended with Marsanne and Rousanne.

In Côte Rôtie, Syrah is blended with Viognier in the making of its red wines but syrah must make up at least 80% of the weight of grapes used in red wines in this appellation.

 

FRENCH SYRAH RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL SYRAH DAY

Find out below which French Syrahs were recommended by French wine importers in Australia for International Syrah Day 2021.

 

The French Wine Centre

https://frenchwinecentre.com/

Jono Hersey from The French Wine Centre shares his syrah recommendations with us for International Syrah Day 2021.

 

How do you find that French syrahs differ from Australian syrahs?

As a general rule, quality Syrahs from France (and in particular Northern Rhone examples) have more of a core of tight fruit, acid and tannins. French Syrahs reach phenolic ripeness at a lower sugar level (alas lower alcohol) than their Australian counterparts. In turn the tannins are more resolved without the feeling of alcohol and retain more acidity which helps with drinkability and age-worthiness. Quality French producers will use larger format, older oak vessels to avoid oak flavours. This being said there are quality Australian producers that follow this rule also. Quality examples will also have a blood-iron and meat characteristic which is a lot more appealing than it reads!

 

Which French syrah(s) do you recommend (from those that you sell)?

Our producer from St Joseph has 2, minute parcels planted in 1958 and 1972. Neither of which have ever seen a chemical or tractor and has been run by the same blood line of draft horse. No or little sulphur is used in the winemaking process depending on the year.

 

Why?

Domaine Rouchier is regarded as a ‘unicorn’ wine with his incredibly detailed farming approach to his minuscule parcels. The concentration and unique intensity and structure is quite simply very special (and delish!)

What would you serve with this syrah?

Any red meat cooked over coal or wood. The smokiness will pair perfectly. If vegetarian cook very over coals for the same effect!

 

Clos Cachet

https://closcachet.com.au/

Alex from Clos Cachet shares his recommendation for International Syrah Day.

 

How do you find French syrahs differ from Australian syrahs?

Both countries produce great Syrahs. To compare them directly is a difficult exercise because they each have their own character. Syrahs from the Northern Rhône have beautiful acidity, freshness and a reasonable level of alcohol at 12.5-13.5%. Australian syrahs, in general, are more concentrated and warmer. Fruit is also more present, whereas French syrahs can present notes which are more so of undergrowth and floral.

 

International Syrah Day - Clos CachetWhich French syrah do you recommend for International Syrah Day?

One of the Syrahs that thrills me is that of Jean-Luc JAMET, “Valine” 2018, planted on the slopes of the Côte-Rôtie, however classified in the Collines-Rhodanniennes appellation.

Why?
It’s a wine with similar characteristics to those of its big sister, the Côte-Rôtie, a lot of finesse, an ample and charming bouquet. On the nose, grilled notes, as well as fresh fruit, with beautiful aromas of violets.

What would you serve with this syrah?

This would be perfect with a barbequed rib-eye, an eggplant tapenade, a roasted chicken, or simply a charcuterie plate.

 

Popsy & JJ
https://popsyandjj.com.au/

Popsy & JJ share their thoughts on syrah for International Syrah Day.

 

How do you find that French syrahs differ from Australian syrahs?

We feel that French syrah is somewhat lighter in tannins and more flavours of pepper, blue fruits whereas Australian shiraz radiates more fruit intensity, higher in tannins and seems more often to be heavy on the oak. The French have been making syrah for thousands of years and really the rest of the world is still playing catch up. Australia’s oldest shiraz vineyards are about 189 years old.

 

Which French syrah do you recommend?

Louis Max ‘Max’ Cotes-du-Rhone Grenache-Syrah 2018

Syrah or shiraz, as Aussies like to call it, is one of the world’s oldest grapes. So it was on our list of must-haves from France, its natural birthplace. We were certainly in luck when we found this beauty blended with one of our favourite grapes grenache! When we sat with Claire the wine maker from Louis Max for a tasting, we knew we had struck gold! Louis Max was founded in 1859 in Burgundy but then soon expanded their interests to mostly south eastern regions of France, including the Rhone Valley, the origins of this wonderful wine.

 

The grapes for the Max were cultivated on very old wine making soils in the heart of the iconic Rhone Valley. Wine making in this region predates the Roman Empire and its rich soil and climate are ideal for producing rustic, fruit driven wines often blending syrah, grenache and mourvedre grapes. Australia’s own Barossa and McLaren Vale wine regions have often used this age-old Rhone blend to produce such wines. But with the Max, don’t think Aussie. The Max is a near 50/50 split of hand-picked syrah and grenache fruit, superbly showcasing the Rhone terroir. It’s super easy to drink, a touch more delicate than the Aussie equivalent. Its colour is ruby, and the nose is full of fresh prunes and cherries. The tannins are as smooth as a new born’s skin, the palate has good length and is like a fresh fruit explosion in your mouth. There are also loads of earthy notes which gives it a rustic feel and perhaps separates it a little further again from similar blends produced in Australia.

 

What would you serve with this syrah?
We matched it with a pork and fennel spicy sausage pasta (click for recipe), and we were in rustic heaven!

 

France-Soir Wine Selections
https://www.francesoirwineselections.com.au/

Pierre Stock from France-Soir Wine Selections shares his syrah recommendation with us.

 

How do you find French Syrahs different to Australian syrahs?
Syrah Australiennes are quite different than the French Wine , different terroir and climatic condition make them apart, even if you find similar palette aromatic , French syrah are often a bit more subtle and not as broad

 

Which French syrah do you recommend for International Syrah Day?
I really love the Syrah from the Northern Rhone, especially from Cornas. Domaine Julien Pilon Cornas L’elegance du Caillou

Why?
Cornas brings a lot of animal characters and spices while the tannins are silky , it often a bigger wines than its neighbour appellation

What would you serve with this syrah?
Red meat in jus, barbeque, Persian salad.

 

 

Mosaïque Wines
https://www.mosaiquewines.com.au/
Thomas Gisbert from Mosaïque Wines shares two Syrah recommendations for International Syrah Day.

How do you find French syrahs differ from Australian syrahs?
I think in general thanks to the climate Australian Shiraz are richer, riper and more concentrated than Northern Rhone Syrah.

Syrah from the Northern Rhone are usually more restrained, floral, with good length. Both are unique style and both should play to their strengths.

Which French syrah do you recommend for International Syrah Day?

#1
I recommend the Domaine Garon Cotes du Rhone ‘La Part des Vivants’ 2018 with 80% Syrah 20% Grenache.

The Garon have been based in the village of Ampuis in the Northern Rhone, foothill of the famous Cote Rotie hill for generations.

They used to sell their grapes to Guigal for years before they then started pushing their own bottling and started farming organically.

Why?
I think this is a great example of Northern Rhone Syrah, from high quality vineyards, great winemaking style and at affordable prices.

What would you serve with this Syrah?
Steak frites, pizza, lasagna, pasta with meatballs.

 

Which syrah would you recommend?

#2
Which syrah would you recommend?
I recommend the Domaine Garon Cote Rotie ‘La Sybarine’ 2018  with 100% Syrah. The Garon winery is right at the foothill of the famous Cote Rotie hill.

Why?
Cote Rotie is one of the finest example of Syrah in the world. Domaine Garon ‘La Sybarine’ is a great example than Syrah can show elegance and finesse.

‘La Sybarine’ is a blend of 25-year-old Syrah from plots on decomposed granite from the Cote Rotie “blonde area” (Lieu dit Goutay and Mollard). 9 000 vines per hectares, with all fruit handpicked and 80% destemmed. Aged 14 months in old French oak barrels.

What would you serve with this Syrah?
Slow cooked meat dishes, grilled meat with roast vegetable, meat stew.

 

Airoldi Fine Wines
https://www.airoldifinewines.com.au/

Daniel Airoldi from Airoldi Fine Wines shares his thoughts for International Syrah Day.

NOTE: You can receive 20% off all orders (not just syrah) from Airoldi Fine Wines when you use the code “Marseillaise” at checkout.

 

How do you find French Syrahs differ from Australian Syrahs?

Syrah in France is used in blends most of the time for its colour and its flavours of black fruits and black pepper. In Australia, Syrah is often used as a single varietal and is planted in hot climates; it produces very strong wines that are much higher in alcohol than French syrahs. That said, there are some Syrahs planted in cooler climates like Henty in Victoria which produces styles that are closer to those found in France.

 

Which French syrah do you recommend for International Syrah Day?

Le Petit Camartel du Domaine Guillaume Armand in Languedoc next to Sommières. It’s a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault.

Why?
It’s a wine produced biodynamically which shows the purity of the fruit. It’s a wine with a bit of an animal side at first but which opens up to aromas of black fruits, garigue with a salty allure.

What would you serve with this Syrah?
Grilled lamb chops and ratatouille.

 

Le Plonque
https://leplonque.com.au/

Margot Dumas from Le Plonque shares her recommendation and thoughts on Syrah with us for International Syrah Day.

 

Today, the team at Le Plonque would like to celebrate international Syrah day with you.

What is Syrah? Syrah, aka Shiraz in Australia, is a dark-skinned grape variety mainly used to produce red wines.

Syrah can have flavours and characteristics very different according to the climate where it’s cultivated.

Moderate climate such a Northern Rhône in France tends to produce medium to full-bodied wines, plus medium to high levels of tannins and notes of blackberry.

In hot climates, such as McLaren Vale or Barossa Valley in Australia, Syrah is more often full-bodied but with softer tannins. The typical notes that will develop here are licorice and anise.

Syrah can be used as a single varietal or as a blend, which is very common in the Rhône Valley in France.

 

Domaine des Trois Lys Les Garrigues 2017 is a beautiful blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan from the south of France. And at Le Plonque, we think it is the perfect wine to open for this occasion.

This wine is our favourite Côtes du Rhône wine, it is full-bodied with an intense ruby colour. It is warm with silky tannins and we love its hints of violet. It does wonder with red meats or a cheese platter. It is available on our website and we offer delivery to your door anywhere in Australia!

Which syrah will you drink today to celebrate International Syrah Day? Do you prefer French syrah or Australian shiraz?

 

You may also like our articles about other varietals:

International Cabernet Franc Day is today!

Carménère Day: the story of a grape thought extinct

Drink Merlot today because it’s International Merlot Day!

Happy International Carignan Day

International Grenache Day 2020: how to celebrate today

20 Champagne facts to celebrate Champagne Day this week

 

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International Syrah Day