Syrah Vs. Shiraz – DING! DING! DING!
What’s the difference between Syrah and Shiraz?
This is a very common question and while it may be common wine logic to some, it’s still a mystery to the average wine drinker. Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape. The difference between Shiraz and Syrah comes down to style.
Shiraz is what “Syrah” is called in Australia; everywhere else around the world it’s called Syrah. The only exception is it’s sometimes called Shiraz in regions like South Africa and Chile. Whether it’s French Syrah, Italian Syrah or Australian Shiraz it’s all the same grape; it’s just a different style of wine depending on where it’s from.
Syrah made its mark in the Rhone River Valley wine region of France. In the Northern Rhone Syrah is the grape of the famous sub-regions Cornas, St.Joseph and Hermitage. In the Southern Rhone Syrah is part of the blend used to make Chateauneuf Du Pape, Gigondas and Cotes du Rhone.
WINE TIP: When you see a bottle of wine labeled St.Joseph, Cornas, Hermitage or Croze-Hermitage the wine you are drinking/buying is Syrah.
Medium to Full Body
Medium to High Acidity
Flavors/Aroma/Bouquet: Blackberry, Blueberry, Black Pepper, White Pepper, Smoke, Bacon Fat, Cassis, Mint, Floral
Here’s where Shiraz differs:
Shiraz shares the characteristics listed up above. In Australia however, they generally make a more extracted, fuller-bodied riper style of wine. Some might call Shiraz a fruit bomb, but there plenty of excellent producers of Shiraz in Australia who can make very well-balanced less extracted styles.
But hey, those fruit-bomb high alcohol styles of Shiraz are some of the best easy drinking wines you can get.
Syrah from France tends to be less extracted, lower alcohol with less of the juicy ripe fruit-forward style you get from Australia. You can still get a riper style, just not to the extent of Australia.
Washington State also specializes in Syrah. You could say Washington Syrah makes a style in between the styles of France and Australia.
WINE FACT: Syrah and Shiraz are sometimes blended with Viognier (a white wine) to soften the wine.
Favorite Syrah Producers:
French Syrah – J.Chave, Alain Voge and Guigal
Italian Syrah – Armille
Washington Syrah – DeLille, Owen Roe and Charles Smith
Favorite Shiraz Producers:
Australian Shiraz – D’Arenberg, Mollydooker, Torbreck, Two Hands and Yalumba.
WINE FACT: G.S.M. is a term you will hear regarding wines from California, mainly Paso Robles. It stands for the three grapes in the blend: Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre. Those are also the main components of the Southern Rhone Blends mentioned earlier.
-The Modern Somm