Syrah / Shiraz
The northern part of France’s Rhône Valley is the classic home for great wines from the Syrah grape. Rhône wines such as Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie are the inspiration for Syrah’s dissemination to Australia, California, Washington state, Italy, and Spain.
Syrah produces deeply colored wines with full body, firm tannin, and aromas/flavors that can suggest berries, smoked meat, black pepper, tar, or even burnt rubber (believe it or not). In Australia, Syrah (called Shiraz) comes in several styles — some of them charming, medium-bodied, vibrantly fruity wines that are quite the opposite of the Northern Rhône’s powerful Syrahs.
Syrah doesn’t require any other grape to complement its flavors, although in Australia it is often blended with Cabernet, and in the Southern Rhône it is often part of a blended wine with Grenache and other varieties.