Shiraz or Syrah? It doesn’t matter, they are the same

Potato, Potahto – Tomato, Tomahto

Shiraz and Syrah are one and the same. Shiraz is used in Australia, but not exclusively as South Africa also produces Shiraz and Syrah is the name used for this variety around the rest of the world. A dark skinned variety, Syrah originated in the Rhone region of France and is strongly influenced by the terrior in which it is grown. In cool regions it will produce floral, elegant wines with white pepper and light smoky notes. Whilst warmer regions produce fuller bodied wines with ripe bold fruit (sometimes referred to as jammy) with black pepper and chocolate. Aged Syrah/Shiraz can develop delicious secondary and tertiary characters like bramble, tobacco, cigar box and leather.

Syrah contributes a very small amount to the total vineyard plantings in New Zealand and approximately 70% are in the Hawke’s Bay wine region. The opposite can be said for Austraila where Shiraz is the flagship variety, it is abundantly planted in South Australia and widely grown in other regions. Records show when it was first made by visionary winemaker, the late Max Schubert, it was dismissed as ‘dry port tasting of crushed ants’ by other Australian winemakers but is indeed the variety that put the Australian wine industry on the map.

Man O’War Dreadnought Syrah 2016 Waiheke Island

The largest wine producer on Waiheke Island, Man O’War planted its first vines in 1993 and now boasts 150 acres and twelve grape varieties. Owned by the Spencer family, this iconic New Zealand brand produces stunning premium wines of consistently high quality that are adored by wine critics and consumers alike.

The Dreadnought Syrah is hand picked from the steep clay and loam hillside vineyards, the grapes are fermented with a percentage of whole bunch clusters using indigenous yeast. After extended skin contact the grapes are pressed and spend eighteen months in French oak of which 32% is new.

Deep ruby with a purple hue, this wine takes a minute to open up in the glass but when it does, wow! Aromas of sweet baking spices, cinnamon, nutmeg and anise with roasted plum and blackberry. Fresh and lively on the palate, a perfect blend of fruit, oak and tannin with a long persistent finish.

Villa Maria Reserve Syrah 2016 Hawke’s Bay

With 28 varieties planted all over New Zealand it’s no wonder that Villa Maria is one of our biggest selling wine brands, they have something for everyone! Having won multiple awards for their Gimblett Gravels Reserve Syrah including Champion Syrah & Best Wine: Hawkes Bay at the New Zealand Wine of the Year Awards 2018.

This wine comes from two vineyards in the Gimblett Gravels, with its free draining soils and warm daytime temperatures it is the perfect place for Syrah to thrive. The grapes are destemmed before fermentation and aged in French oak for 17 months.

A deep but vibrant purple colour with smoky dark fruit, liquorice and violets on the nose. The palate is lighter than I expected but refreshingly so. This wine is begging to be matched with a delicious winter meal. Plum, blackberry and white pepper with ripe grippy tannins in a well structured package.

Giesen Clayvin Syrah 2016 Marlborough

Focusing on premium single vineyard wines Giesen has created a collection that shows the diversity of soils, climates, elevation and varieties within their vineyards and Marlborough as a region. The skilled winery team use a “hands off” approach letting the fruit and terroir shine whilst creating interesting and textural wines.

Coming from the densely planted and organically farmed Clayvin vineyard, established in 1993, the fruit has a short cold soak period before a warm fermentation takes place and is then matured in French barrels. This wine won Trophy for Champion Other Red Varietal at the Marlborough Wine Show 2018.

Dark purple with a ruby red rim, the aromas of violets, dried rose petals, crunchy dark fruits with an earthy edge are captivating. They carry onto the soft rounded texture of the palate which finishes with fine tannins and lingering toasted spice.

Mills Reef Reserve Syrah 2018 Hawke’s Bay

Keeping with their philosophy of achieving balance of flavour, structure and texture in their wines, Mills Reef produces an astonishing range of Hawke’s Bay Syrah’s each with their own nuance and individual characteristics.

The Reserve Syrah comes from two sites, the majority from the famous Gimblett Gravels and a small amount from the low- lying Puketapu Hills. Fermented separately with selected yeasts the wine is aged for eleven months in a mixture of both old and new French and American oak barrels and then bottled unfined to maximise texture and complexity.

A beautiful bright purple colour with an abundance of juicy dark fruit aromas, florals, vanilla pod and spice. Medium bodied with a silky mouthfeel, boysenberry, plum and toasty oak flavours finishing with dusty tannins and lifted acidity refreshing the palate.

Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Shiraz 2017 Barossa

Honouring its founder, Samuel Smith, Yalumba has released a collection of wines bearing his name. Driven by progressive thinking and excellence; Australia’s most historic family owned winery celebrates his spirit of independence with its iconic varieties in the Samuel’s Collection.

Made with 100% Barossa fruit this Shiraz was fermented with both wild yeasts found in the vineyard and cultured yeast adding complexity and depth. Seperate parcels were aged for ten months in French, American and Hungarian oak casks and then blended.

The prettiness of the nose matches perfectly with the lovely violet and ruby hues of this wine. Lifted aromas of fresh plum and red berries with hints of anise and vanilla. Medium in body with smoky spices, the soft tannins and fruit are perfectly balanced to create a charming wine.

Jim Barry McRae Wood Shiraz 2015 Clare Valley

A true family affair, Jim Barry Wines is now in the hands of its third generation of winemakers. With a strong belief that great wines come from great vineyards, all wines are produced from their own sites. Using cool ferments and gentle extraction methods they strive to retain elegance and structure in their wines.

The McRae Wood Shiraz carries the name of Duncan McRae Wood, whom Jim bought 70 acres of land from in 1964. The wine is 100% Shiraz from the Clare Valley, aged in French oak for 12-18 months depending on the vintage with a mix of coopers. The wine is cellared to ensure it’s drinking perfectly when released.

Purple but with a hint of garnet as the wine has some age. The aromas are hypnotic, intense and complex with Doris plum, rose, black pepper, vanilla and an earthy dried note. The velvety palate is a replica of the nose but with the addition of toasty oak, it has a seemingly ever lasting finish.

Coriole Redstone Shiraz 2017 McLaren Vale

Celebrating its 50th birthday this year, Coriole is well known for Shiraz but has also introduced the interesting varieties Fiano, Sangiovese and Piquepoul to their vineyard plantings. Their vine age varies from almost 100 years old to new plantings and many of the vineyards are farmed organically.

Taken from three vineyard sites in the McLaren Vale; the Blewitt Springs, Coriole Estate and  Willunga vineyards. Each parcel spends twelve months in French oak and is then blended to make the finished wine.

Opaque in the centre with a lighter purple edge. Bold, rich and dark fruit fills the air as the wine is poured. This wine has a complex palate with blackberry, dark cherry and dark spices and finishes with delicious savoury olive tapenade and grippy firm tannins.

Tar & Roses Shiraz 2016 Victoria

Narelle King is the passionate woman behind the brand Tar & Roses, named after both signature characteristics of Nebbiolo. Along with Shiraz exceptional Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Nebbiolo come from the Victoria vineyards. Producing wines that show varietal character, reflect the terroir and show individual flair is extremely important to Narelle.

This wine comes from selected vineyards; some with dense red Cambrian soils, which Heathcote is well known for, and the others from more gravelly free draining soils. The parcels are fermented and aged separately in French oak using 19% new barrels.

The colour is an inky dense purple, a fresh nose of crushed berries, oak derived spice and a hint of eucalyptus. Extremely earthy with rich berry fruit and a firm tannins this wine is in the more structured spectrum of Shiraz.