Known as either Syrah or Shiraz, you can generally tell a person’s devotion to this red grape variety by what they refer to said grape as. Those referring to it a Syrah enjoy the smoky, herbaceous mineral driven version of the grape, famously honed in the region of the Rhone Valley, France. Others who find themselves synonymous with the term Shiraz are seduced by the sweet, chocolatey primary fruits often supplied from sunny regions of Australia.

Legend has it that Syrah/Shiraz originated from a vine known as Allobrogica that was cultivated in the Northern Rhone by the Gallic tribe the Allobroges, during the Roman Empire. This vine was revered for its fine quality and signature tarry flavour. Over time, this vine evolved into the modern-day vine we know as Syrah.
Syrah was introduced into Australia by James Busby, a Scotsman who settled in New South Wales in 1824. In 1832, during a visit to Europe, he collected cuttings of more than 400 different grape vines, of which Syrah became one of the most successful, adapting well to the hotter and drier climate of its new home.

Shiraz is grown in virtually every grape growing region of Australia, being most significant in the area of the Barossa Valley, South Australia.
There is a wide range of regional styles which Oz Clarke describes as:
Barossa Valley: tremendously rich, chocolatey, verging on the over-ripe, but magnificent, sun-baked
McLaren Vale: rich and chocolatey
Clare Valley: leaner but packed with dark fruit
Padthaway and Wrattonbully: both with wines full of damson fruit and chocolate richness
Coonawarra: dark and peppery
Hunter Valley: ripe plum fruit and a bit ‘meaty’
North-East Victoria: dark and chocolatey
Victoria (cooler regions): wonderfully scented damson rich wines
Western Australia: cool but intense dark plum flavours (Margaret River & southwards)

Furthermore, hot regions (such as the Barossa Valley and the Hunter Valley) produce soft, earthy, spicy style that develops leather and caramel with age.
Cooler regions (Margaret River, Western Victoria) produce a leaner, more peppery style.

These styles can be blended across regions, as often seen in the likes of wines labelled ‘South Eastern Australia – bearing in mind that this region is big enough to cover the bulk of Europe!

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