Syrah Vs Shiraz

Shiraz vs Syrah. A tale of twins; while in many ways they're the same, they each offer their own unique expression of the fruit. There's no argument they're the same grape but what makes them different?

The story of Shiraz vs Syrah is the prime example of how the nature of terroir can influence two wines of the same grape to be vastly different from one another.

Syrah

Syrah was the name given to the renowned grape by the French while those of us in the New World know it fondly as Shiraz. Syrah is indigenous to the Northern Rhône region of France, the offspring of Doureza and Mondeuse Blanche varietals and over two thousand years old. Syrah is believed to have been brought to Australia during the founding of our wine industry, possibly as far back as 1830.

The Northern Rhône region has a cool and dry, continental climate. Unlike The Southern Rhone region, the prevalent winds of the North usually follow the rains and assist producers by keeping the grapes clean and disease free. It is these climatic conditions that produce high-quality fruit. However, restrictions to protect the winemaking heritage of the region, by the Appellation Controllee Board, also result in lower yields. For example, until recently irrigation in France was illegal. Even now the practice is mired in bureaucracy and taboo. As a consequence, Northern Rhône Syrah vines root deeper for nutrients and to find naturally pooled water held in the limestone rock bed. These factors all result in the distinctive regional flavour of a Northern Rhone Syrah.

The definition of Syrah in Australia is vague. However, it is commonly applied to the style of winemaking, heavily influenced by cooler climates and often found at higher altitude wineries like Eden Road Wines Gundagai Syrah and Warramunda Estate Liv Zak Syrah. The Syrah style focuses on subtle flavours and characteristics like higher acidity, softer tannins and an earthiness with the flavour profile often composed of cherry, cassis, plum, olive, charcoal smoke, lavender and pepper.

 

Eden Road The Long Road Syrah at the cellar door in the Canberra District

Shiraz

Shiraz, a name all Australian red wine lovers know and one of the stars of our industry. Australian Shiraz is big, bold and spicy.

In direct contrast to France's Northern Rhône region, the Australian landscape enhances the fruit forward nature of the grape. The Barossa Valley is the most famous Shiraz region in the Australian wine industry. With warm and dry summer days and cool nights, the vines of the Barossa are subject to temperature fluctuations which have a direct effect on the flavour profile. Warmer climates result in less water in the grapes. A lack of water in the grapes increases sugar concentration which converts into higher alcohol levels when fermented. Because of the Barossa's climate, some producers in the region depend on fertilisers and irrigation to enhance the growth process. This can result in a controlled yields, with consistent vintages and bigger flavours.

Australian Shiraz has historically been centred on higher alcohol wines, however many winemakers are now concentrating on producing fruit forward wines with alcohol levels around 13.5%. Plum, Blackberry and Cherry flavours have helped to create this iconic varietal's global reputation; you can find this style in wines like the Woods Crampton White Label Shiraz.

Eden Road 2013 Gundagai Syrah
Eden Road 2013 Gundagai Syrah
Woods Crampton 2016 White Label Barossa Valley Shiraz
Woods Crampton 2016 White Label Barossa Valley Shiraz