Varietal Spotlight: Syrah

Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is a rich, full-bodied red wine varietal that originated in Southeastern France. Its bold dark fruit flavors and spicy finish make it a favorite for those who prefer complex wines. We offer a 2012 Barrel Select Syrah that is sure to intrigue and delight your palate.

More information about this varietal:

The History of Syrah

Syrah vines originated in the Rhône region of France, although different origin myths have persisted up until fairly recently. Because of its name, the grape was associated with the city of Syracuse in Italy and the Iranian city of Shiraz. A popular legend was that Phocaeans brought the vines from Shiraz into Marseilles, then called Massilia, around 600 BC. Another story was that a hermit known as Gaspare de Stérimberg brought Syrah from Shiraz into France. However, these origin stories lack any backing and often conflict with historical, botanical, and genealogic evidence.

Ampelographers, which is the name for specialists who research the classification and origin of wines, were able to determine the likely origin of Syrah based on the grape’s DNA. A 1998 study conducted by Dr. Carole Meredith’s team from the University of California, Davis uncovered the parents of Syrah. The grape is the cross between two obscure varietals: Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. The Dureza is a dark-skinned grape from Ardèche and the Mondeuse Blanche comes from the Savoy region. Since both parent grapes have historically been grown only in a limited area of Southeastern France, researchers have concluded that this would be the most likely area of origin for Syrah. It is still unclear when the cross-pollination that led to Syrah first occurred, although an account from Pliny the Elder in 77 AD matches some characteristics.

The Syrah Grape

Syrah grapes have dark, thick skins and the vines ripen best in relatively dry climates. Winemakers sometimes joke that this varietal likes a view because it is often planted at the top of hills. The varietal is one of the parents of Petite Sirah, which is also called Durif.

Characteristics of Syrah

Terroir, the term for where wine is grown, can strongly affect how wines made from these grapes taste. Wine enthusiasts often distinguish between Old World Syrah, which is grown in Europe, and New World Syrah from the United States and Australia. Old World wines made from this varietal tend to be earthier and more herbaceous, whereas the New World variety tends to be more fruit-driven and often has spicier notes.

Syrah is a bold wine and therefore benefits from being accompanied with equally bold flavors for food pairing. We recommend trying it with savory meats. Consider matching the herbal notes of Syrah with the herbs and spices you use in your dish to accentuate the taste of both your food and your wine.

Our Syrah Wines

Our 2012 Syrah was aged for 36 months in French oak and bottle aging has continued to develop its complex flavors. The wine has a velvety mouthfeel and is full-bodied and complex. You will first notice dark fruit flavors including blackberry, boysenberry, and current. You will also notice smoky allspice, rosemary, and mint. A finish of cracked black pepper, ripe fig, and forest clove brings the Syrah to a graceful close and aging has brought out clean leather and cedar notes as well.

You can purchase our Syrah at either of our wine tasting rooms or online.