Shiraz vs. Syrah

Shiraz vs. Syrah

What is the difference I hear you say!  Well nothing actually, Shiraz and Syrah are in fact exactly the same grape!  The difference is where and how they are grown, Shiraz is the name it takes in the New World and Syrah is what is it called in the Old World.

Old World

Probably the most famous area for Syrah production in the Old World is the Northern Rhône region in France.  In fact the only red grape they are allowed to grow here is Syrah.

The Northern Rhône region is located about 30km south of Lyon and stretches 90km further south along the banks of the Rhône river. 

The Syrah produced here is world renowned, complex, elegant and refined. 

The best wines are full bodied, full of black currants, raspberry, violets and dark chocolate, notes of spice, bacon rind, cedar wood, white pepper and charcoal.  Tannins are fine and silky. 

With a cooler mediterranean climate the search for the sunshine is on going, less sunshine means the grapes are more savoury in flavour, have high tannins and high alcohol, so, in order to try and counter this and balance their wines with more fruit flavour producers need to find the sunniest spots to grow their grapes.  

There are a limited number of south facing, steep slopes that rise up from the river, these are prized areas and are where the Premier Cru Estates sit - Côte Rôtie AC and Saint-Joseph AC.  These small areas of old vine, hand picked grapes produce outstanding wines that command outstandingly high prices! 

The more fertile plains of the Northern Rhône region, away from the banks of the  river, produce lighter Syrah, still with the raspberry fruit and white pepper flavours you'd expect and often blended with white grapes from the area - viognier, marsanne and roussanne, and are available at a more reasonable price.

We have a wonderful example of a Northern Rhône Syrah available, a mid range pure Syrah from Crozes-Hermitage, a lovely producer called Pierre Rougon, this area consists of a combination of south facing slopes and flatter plains, the grapes for this wine are from old vines at least 30 years in age. 

New World

In the New World Shiraz is a different kettle of fish!  Primarily due to the climate, irrigation and experimentation.

A very well-known Shiraz producing area is South Australia.  Here you have areas such as McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley, that benefit from hot weather and fertile soils and produce soft earthy, spicy style Shiraz that develops leather and caramel notes with age. Rolling hills and open vineyards, enable easier harvesting and help to keep costs at a reasonable level.

Experimentation and a huge amount of passion from new wine producers has new styles of Shiraz developing in the region. One of the most popular being big, bold and fruity with very high alcohol and velvety tannins to balance out the fruit, very popular!  The hot weather helps the grapes ripen and become super juicy, the addition of oak, American and French adds layers of complexity.  

An example of this is The Boxer Shiraz from Mollydooker in the McLaren Vale.  Rich, deep and powerful, with beautiful fresh notes of plum, mocha and liquorice lift out of the glass, well measured tannins and slightly toasty oak compliment the fruit. 

Here they have experimented and used nitrogen to help preserve the wine, which also helps minimise sulphates at the same time so more people can drink it.  Whilst this stops any dilution of the wine during the process it does sit in the bottle and needs to be released in order for the full flavour to be released once again, so they have developed 'The Mollydooker Shake', click on the link to learn how to get the best from your Mollydooker Shiraz!

We have a great range of Australian Shiraz from a variety of different producers such as Mountadam from Barossa and Eden Valley and Torbreck also from Barossa, that definitely need checking out.

We hope you like these wines as much as we do!

Back to blog