Shiraz Wines

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Shiraz is one type of grape variety that is used to make wine. In the country of France and the United States, it is called Syrah. The name Shiraz is more popular in Canada, South Africa and Australia. It should not be confused with the synonym of Durif which is "Petite Sirah". Syrah is the offspring of two different French varieties which is Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. This grape has several other synonyms that are attributed to it such as Candive, Sereine, Marsanne Noir, Hignin Noir, Schiras, Sirac, Syra, Syrac, Balsamina and Antourenein Noir.

The reason why there are different names for this type of varietal is that the wine marketers and winemakers are picky when it comes to signifying the stylistic difference in the versions of wines they have made. The name "Syrah" is labeled as something to be a little bit of an Old World example which is also presumed to be more restrained or elegant. The types that are labeled "Shiraz" are the ones which can be attributed to the New World examples which are most likely have a fruitier flavor and riper quality.

The name of Shiraz originates from a city in Iran which has the same name. The process of the winemaking is debated to have come from that same city about 7000 years ago. There have been several historic accounts which say that the Shiraz was brought into the country of southern France by a returning champion, Guy De’Sterimberg. After that, he became a hermit and he was able to develop a vineyard on a steep hill near his house in Rhone Valley. That is why the wine is also known as The Hermitage which is a tribute to the person who introduced it.

There was a study way back in 1998 when the University of California concluded that the grape variety of Shiraz today came from the exact vicinity of the Northern Rhone valley of France resulting from a cross of the Mondeuse Blanche and the Dureza grape varieties. The study was furthered and years later, DNA testing was able to prove this.

The grape variety of Syrah is still the main grape variety of the Northern Rhone and is associated with classic wine types such as Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage and Cornas. In the southern area of Rhone, it is used as a blending grape in different varieties of wines such as Gigondas and Cotes du Rhone. Shiraz has always been used as a blending grape in the different reds of many countries because of its fleshy fruit mid-palate which is essentially able to balance the various weaknesses of other grape varieties. Shiraz actually completes the wine.

Shiraz is also the variety that winemakers use to create dry, red table wine. It is most often vinified on its own but, as discussed, it is blended with other grape varieties such as Merlot, Viognier in order to create a better concentration and a fuller flavor. The grape variety of Shiraz is definitely one of the few varieties that not only stands on its own but also completes others by its unique taste.