Plantings of Syrah
A decade ago Syrah (aka Shiraz) was reported as to be the 7th most planted grape variety in the world with 142,600 ha of plantings globally. In South Africa, of the total vineyard area estimated in 2013 at approximately 103,000 ha, 10% is devoted to Syrah/Shiraz. This grape variety continues to capture the imagination and favor of both winemakers and consumers alike, around the globe, as it’s capable of many guises from the merely soft and fruity, to a magical blending component, and not least, some of the finest full bodied and elegant wines in the world with great ageing capacities that creeps into the decades.
Origins of Syrah
Until the world renown Professor of viticulture and enology, Carole Meredith of UC Davis confirmed the genetic heritage of Syrah in the 1990’s, there was wide-spread speculation and legends as to its origins. Syrah is in fact a variety whose parents have both been traced to Dureza in the French region of Ardèche and Mondeuse Blanche of Savoie. The most famous Syrah in the world is arguably the northern Rhône AOC’s of Hermitage, St.Joseph, Cornas, Côte Rotie and the finite “La-La” wines of Guigal; La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque.
Syrah grows very easily in warm climates, has excellent vigour, and yields extremely well. It thrives on poor rocky soils, especially granite (which is commonly found in the northern Rhône) and can carry different flavours depending on how long the growing season is, and how warm or cool the climate. Even at high yields you can still produce very pleasant wine (unlike some other varieties).
Flavour profile of Syrah
This is a gladiator of grape varieties which can display elegant fragrance of violets, blueberries, cinnamon, coffee, white pepper and spice on the one hand, or deep, dark, brooding, rich aromas of cocoa, mocha, blackberry and damson on the other. For the finest Syrah’s in the world, when aged in bottle for 10, 15, 20 years or more, this variety can display truly wondrous aromas of leather, smoke, savory meat, chocolate and cloves. On the palate, Syrah immediately capture’s the beholder with its firm tannic back bone and tremendously intense fruity grip that makes these wines so unique.