Blessed with not one but two names, this grape is known as Syrah in its spiritual home France’s Northern Rhone and in the Languedoc/ Roussillon (where it often appears in gorgeous red blends with other sun-loving grape varieties).
It goes under the same name in the USA, and South Africa where some very fine quality expressions of the grape are produced, particularly in Swartland. In Australia, its name changes to Shiraz and it’s the most widely-planted grape, displaying full-bodied concentrated fruit in hot spots and elegant, peppery expression in cooler climes. Downunder, Shiraz also comes in a lovely sparkling style.
This small, inkily-coloured thick-skinned, grape loves warm to hot climates with the classic Northern Rhône in France being one of the cooler limits where it fares well (and produces some exceptional wines!). When it is cultivated in cooler climes, it expresses a peppery, fresh black fruit character with a medium body. In warm to hot climates, it displays a full body, super-ripe black fruit, and liquorice tones plus high alcohol. It has a great tannic character that makes it suitable for ageing wherever it is cultivated. It can appear as a varietal wine or in blends. Other notable spots where you find Syrah/ Shiraz include Chile and New Zealand.
Fun fact: There’s an ancient city in Iran named Shiraz that used to be a vibrant centre of quality wine production! There’s no proven link with the modern-day Shiraz/ Syrah grape though.