Syrah wines have been gaining in popularity and now come from many wine regions around the globe. However, the grape variety Syrah originated in the Rhone Valley of France. It is a dark, thick-skinned grape capable of making wines of great density and complexity.
While Syrah wines do not yet have the worldwide recognition of grapes like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon it is certainly a noble grape capable of producing some of the best wines in world. The wines from the Northern Rhône Valley, Australia and some of those from California are amongst the best and most sought-after wines of any type.
Where Are Syrah Wines Made?
The birthplace of Syrah is in the Rhone Valley of France. Although it is grown throughout the Rhone, in the Southern Rhone it is rarely more than a minor blending grape. However, in most of the important villages in the Northern Rhone Syrah is the most important grape. There it is often the only grape used in a wine, with a few exceptions where white grapes like Viognier or Marsanne may be blended in with the Syrah in small quantities. It is almost always vinified as a dry red wine
In the Northern Rhone, the two most famous villages are Hermitage and Côte Rôtie. Both produce Syrah-based red wines which are generally full bodied, complex and age-worthy. Other villages in the area produce Syrah wines, such as Cornas, St. Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage. Some Côtes du Rhône from the Northern Rhone are predominantly Syrah as well.
Syrah has spread widely around the world and examples come from many wine growing regions. Most notably, Syrah has been grown to great effect in parts of Australia for decades. It is called Shiraz there. Likewise, California, particularly in the Central Coast, has produced many outstanding Syrah-based wines. Other examples can be found, including from the south of France, Italy and others.
What Styles of Wine Does Syrah Produce and What Do They Taste Like?
Syrah is a dark, thick-skinned grape variety. However, it is quite distinct from grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Syrah tends to have a dark, black fruit appearance, flavor and aroma. It also can have a peppery, spicy and/or meaty aroma to it which is quite distinct. For example, in Cote-Rotie, it is known for an intense bacon fat type aroma. Hermitage can also be meaty but is generally more floral and and earthy, the best examples almost resembling the aromatic complexity and elegance of a Burgundy. Some Syrah wines, like Cornas can be darker black with iron like minerality and peppery spice.
Syrah and Shiraz from warmer climates like Australia and California can be quite a bit more ripe and fruit forward profile with higher alcohol and a fatter, sexier personality.
Most Syrah-based wines are dry red wines and they can be quite long-lived.
Some Famous Examples:
Single-vineyard Cote-Roties from Guigal, including La Mouline, La Turque and La Landonne
Hermitage Rouge from JL Chave
Hermitage La Chapelle from Jaboulet
Grange Hermitage Shiraz from Penfolds in Australia
Various California Syrahs from producers such as Sine Qua Non, Pax, Tablas Creek, Saxum, Edmunds St. John and others.
Done reading about Syrah wines?
Return to the Grape Varieties section.