Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shiraz or Syrah

Shiraz is what the Australians call Syrah. Australians also used to call it Hermitage, but that is a French protected name of origin. We'll just call it the "love child".

The origins of Syrah were a mystery until recently when science discovered that Syrah is the love child of Dureza, a red grape and Mondeuse Blanche, a white grape.

Shiraz and Syrah are the same varietal and are dark skinned and used to make some powerful wines. The most notable regions for this varietal are Rhône, France, Australia, and the United States of America.

Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie are some of the famous French wines that are produced from Syrah, the primary grape in the Northern Rhone.

In Australia, it was the Penfold's Grange that became world famous. It used to be labled as Penfold's Grange Hermitage, but as mentioned before, "Hermitage" is a French protected name of origin. Only wines from Hermitage can have that label.

The flavor profile for Old World vs. New World Syrah are fairly distinct.

Old World Syrah Flavor Profile: black/white pepper, lavender, rosemary, musk, game, bitter chocolate

New World Syrah/Shiraz Flavor Profile: blackberry jam, vanilla bean, baked earth, smoke, chocolate

Honestly, I don't think I have ever come across a Syrah I didn't like. The tannins are firm but not harsh which makes for easy drinking and a good foil to this usually intense wine.


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