Syrah Wine

Syrah is a dark-skinned red grape, known for producing very full-bodied wine with strong fruit flavors. Its origins have been popularly debated, but its modern viticultural home is unquestionably the northern Rh?ne Valley of eastern France.

In Australia, Syrah is the flagship variety and has developed such a distinct personality that it is essentially regarded as a distinct variety, overwhelmingly but not exclusively known as Shiraz.

Syrah Grapes

The most searched-for Syrah on Wine-Searcher is the Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage.

Origins of Syrah

DNA profiling has shown that Syrah is a cross between two minor Rh?ne varieties: Dureza (a black-skinned grape) and Mondeuse Blanche (a white grape), neither of which today are prolifically planted. This proves Syrah's origins in Rh?ne. Previous held theories have included the Greek island of Syrah and the city of Shiraz in Iran. 

Syrah flavors

Syrah has proved successful in multiple viticultural areas around the world; wines are produced in many styles and display myriad of dark-fruit flavors.

Varietal Syrah can be quite floral in its youth, developing white and black pepper aromas and herbaceous notes as it ages. Some examples show tanned leather and smoky scents, while the fruit in these wines tends towards the very dark flavors of blackcurrant and licorice.

Old World styles of Syrah are generally produced in a more earthy and savoury style in comparison to the New World where fruit-foward notes are more common. 

Blending partners

Syrah is an extremely useful blending grape. The thick-skins of the grape create a high tannin content and contribute a deep ruby-red color to the blend with an intense purple hue.

In the southern Rh?ne it is common for Syrah to be blended with any combination of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsaut, among others.

In C?te-R?tie, up to 20-percent Viognier can be co-fermented with the red grapes to lift aromas and stabilize color although 10-percent is closer to the norm. Syrah-Viognier blends are now made in many other regions, most prolifically in Australia and California.

Syrah regions

While Syrah is grown in numerous regions, it is primarily found in the temperate to warm viticultural areas. As of 2016, approximately 35-percent of the world's Syrah was found in France, followed by Australia with 20-percent and Spain with 10-percent. 

Syrah in France

Some of the world's most famous Syrah wines are the peppery, earthy reds of the northern Rh?ne, specifically of the C?te-R?tie, Hermitage, Cornas and Saint-Joseph appellations. While Hermitage has been held in high regard for many centuries, the "roasted slopes" of C?te-R?tie have emerged as a leading source of Syrah only towards the end of the 20th Century.

One of Syrah's most valued assets is its ability to produce wines capable of aging and improving over many decades. The most valued appellation in this regard is the hill of Hermitage; its name is so respected that for many years it was used as a synonym for Syrah in Australia. A well-built Hermitage requires 10 years or more to relax into its plummy, spicy fullness, and will reward cellaring for a further decade at least.

Several hundred miles up the Rh?ne Valley from Hermitage, near the river's origins at the Rh?ne Glacier, Syrah has found a happy home in the Valais, in warm, sheltered sloping vineyards where it can produce remarkably full, complex wines.

Syrah in America

Syrah has a cult following in California, Washington and Oregon. In the particularly warm climates such as that of Napa Valley, it is blended more often than it is produced as a varietal wine. In Washington, it is the AVAs of Naches Heights and Walla Walla that the variety is popular.

While it has not seen the runaway success enjoyed by Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel, nor the feverish worship of Pinot Noir, a dedicated band of American winemakers has been devotedly working with Syrah since the 1970s. Known as the Rh?ne Rangers, these men and women have proven that the variety can produce complex, rich wines in all three of the above states.

Other Syrah regions

The grape variety enjoys the climate of eastern Austria's Burgenland, moderated by the waters of Lake Neusiedl. Elsewhere in Europe, Syrah is found throughout central Italy, Alentejo of Portugal and Castilla-la Mancha and Aragon of Spain. 

Further south, Syrah has been proving itself in both Chile and Argentina for at least 20 years, and is finding its own style on either side of the Andean peaks. It has also achieved success in New Zealand, and in South Africa.

Syrah viticulture

As a young vine, Syrah is a vigorous variety that requires attentive canopy management from vignerons. Once vines reach a decade or so in age, Syrah is more known for its ability to withstand drought-like conditions making it an ideal variety for warmer viticultural regions. 

Syrah has loose bunches of big grapes meaning the susceptibility it has to various mildew diseases is minimal. For Syrah vineyards to be successful, the correct choice of rootstock is required to ensure that grapes don't excessively shrivel prior to harvest.  

Synonyms for Syrah

Not to be confused with: Petite Sirah; also known as Durif, is a descendant of Syrah and Peloursin Noir. 

Hermitage; Although occasionally referred to as a distinct variety, Hermitage is the appellation with Syrah as the primary red grape variety. 

Other synonyms include: Shiraz, Sira, Sirac, Sirah and Syra.

Best food pairings for Syrah

The robust tannins and intense flavors of Syrah require a food pairing that will hold its own. Red meats, game birds and goat based dishes work well with the medium to high tannin profile. Vegetarian options include grilled mushrooms, eggplant lasagne and lentil-based burgers. 

Lighter, fruit-forward styles of Syrah work well with the creamy components of soft and strong flavored cheeses such as Muenster or Chevre. Refrain from pairing Syrah with delicate cheeses as well as any seafood or light vegetable based dishes. 

Production by region Expand/collapse

Most Popular Syrah Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Region
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage, Rhone, France Hermitage 66th 95 $413
Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle, Rhone, France Hermitage 67th 94 $208
E. Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne, Rhone, France Cote Rotie 192nd 96 $418
Domaine Jamet Cote Rotie, Rhone, France Cote Rotie 244th 94 $194
Domaine Auguste Clape Cornas, Rhone, France Cornas 321st 94 $183
M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon, Rhone, France Hermitage 343rd 95 $335
Pierre Gonon Saint-Joseph, Rhone, France Saint-Joseph 408th 92 $157
M. Chapoutier Ermitage l'Ermite, Rhone, France Hermitage 564th 95 $343
E. Guigal Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde de Guigal, Rhone, France Cote Rotie 707th 91 $70
Paul Jaboulet Aine Domaine de Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone, France Crozes-Hermitage 711th 90 $38
M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Meal, Rhone, France Hermitage 808th 95 $241
Domaine Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie La Landonne, Rhone, France Cote Rotie 897th 94 $156
Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Ermitage 'Cuvee Cathelin', Rhone, France Hermitage 917th 97 $8,483
Cayuse Vineyards Bionic Frog Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, USA Walla Walla Valley 946th 95 $438
Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Petite Chapelle - La Maison Bleue, Rhone, France Hermitage 958th 92 $70
Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Saint-Joseph, Rhone, France Saint-Joseph 1,080th 92 $88
Herdade da Maroteira Cem Reis Reserva Syrah, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal Alentejo 1,116th 89 $104
Domaine Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie Cote Blonde, Rhone, France Cote Rotie 1,142nd 94 $196
E. Guigal Hermitage, Rhone, France Hermitage 1,159th 92 $66
E. Guigal Ermitage Ex-Voto, Rhone, France Hermitage 1,172nd 95 $306
Domaine Jamet Cote Rotie Cote Brune, Rhone, France Cote Rotie 1,201st 95 $599
Domaine Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie Cuvee Classique Ampodium, Rhone, France Cote Rotie 1,337th 91 $75
M. Chapoutier Cote Rotie La Mordoree, Rhone, France Cote Rotie 1,344th 93 $161
M. Chapoutier Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne, Rhone, France Hermitage 1,423rd 92 $88
Marie et Pierre Benetiere Cote Rotie Cordeloux, Rhone, France Cote Rotie 1,595th 91 $204
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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