Syrah grapes are small with thick dark skins and are able to produce red wines capable of aging for decades. The vine is relatively productive and disease resistant; it buds late and ripens early. It has enjoyed a surge in popularity throughout southern France.
The wines are deeply coloured with medium acidity and are usually full-bodied and generally have a blackberry and dark chocolate character. Many undergo some oak treatment, which can give toast, smoke, vanilla and coconut flavours to the wine.
Northern Rhône is the classic region for Syrah, which is rarely blended here. The finest wines are made from grapes grown on the steep terraces above the Rhône. Many of these are so narrow that no machinery can be used. The best appellation is Côte-Rôtie.
Syrah is also the most planted variety in Languedoc-Roussillon and we have seen it adding structure and savour to our blends there - the wines are supple and fruity with a particularly polished mouthfeel.
Shiraz has been Australia's major black grape variety for decades. Grapes grown in hot climates in regions such as McLaren Vale have flavours that include intense blackberry and plum and notes of dark chocolate. Use of oak in these wines can be pronounced.
Syrah has also been hugely successful in Chile, with some great elegant and fruity styles accompanied by peppery spice.