. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and the same aphorism can be said about a wine. It is the inherent character of the grape, and not the name that we put upon it, that will express itself in the glass. Regardless of what you choose to call it, Syrah
creates some of the greatest wines produced in the world, and has found a home in more appellations globally than almost any other grape.
Originating in France’s Northern Rhone Valley, Syrah has long produced wines renowned for their fine fruit flavors, dark color, and impressive ageability. In the Rhone, the Hermitage appellation brought this noble grape to world renown as long ago as the eighteenth century, when foreign dignitaries such as Thomas Jefferson travelled great distances to sample them - and, of course, to take them home for their own cellars. Today, such phenomenal Rhone producers as Guigal
produce Hermitages, Crozes-Hermitages and Cote-Roties that are dense, dark, and focused, with intense minerality and profound depth of flavor.
From France, Syrah - like so many other grapes - travelled internationally, to be planted in vineyards on many different continents. The place in the New World where it has seen the most success is in Australia
, where the locals call it Shiraz, a name whose origins have been lost to antiquity. First brought to the country in the early nineteenth century, it has taken root there as the national signature grape. In the Barossa Valley of South Australia it produces wines whose boldness is arguably unparalleled in the world; lovers of big flavors flock to these wines in droves, and in recent years many of them have become popular with collectors, particularly big names like Penfolds
Grange and Mollydooker
’s Velvet Glove
Australia isn’t the only New World region where Syrah has found a home. Indeed, it seems that this chameleon of a grape does well almost anywhere grapes are grown. In the Americas, it does particularly well in both the North and Central Coasts of California
- Napa Valley producers such as Lewis Cellars and Darioush
make it a focus, as do Santa Ynez pioneers like Qupe
and Paso Robles wineries such as Justin
State has made a big investment in Syrah vines over the last few years, especially since cult icon Cayuse in Walla Walla started to make big waves with their unapologetically massive wines. The trend has continued, and the quality could not be higher, from Woodinville upstarts such as Gorman Winery
and Mark Ryan
Winery to Eastern Washington favorites Waters Winery
and Gramercy Cellars
Big flavors in wine often call for big flavors in food, and that’s why Shiraz and New World Syrahs are perfect companions for bold dishes like beef brisket or steak. Gentler French Syrahs do well with slightly more medium bodied dishes such as duck in a plum sauce.
The grape Syrah can take on many forms. It can make wines rich in fruit and flavor like those produced in Australia and California, or it can make wines of elegance and grace, such as those produced in the Northern Rhone Valley that Thomas Jefferson once called "the first wine in the world without a single exception." In this way, Syrah is an excellent example of how wine can truly be an expression of the place where it is made. Shop Syrah Wines
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