Story by Jordan Lacenski
Written while sipping on The Lane Vineyard, 2013 Block 14 Basket Press Shiraz
We see you strolling the wine aisles, looking for something new, something bold. If you like big, full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, we challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and try a Syrah or a Shiraz.
What’s the difference?
While Syrah and Shiraz are two different names for the same dark red wine grape, they come from different regions. Soil and climate can cause the same varietal to vary. Because this grape is so versatile, it will allow you to swirl, sniff, and sip your way through France, Australia, and beyond.
“Syrah” comes from France’s Rhône region. Some of the darkest, full-bodied red wines in the world are Syrah or Syrah blends. With dark fruit flavors such as sweet blueberry, Syrah is fruit-forward with a spicy peppery finish. The climate produces earthy flavors like tobacco, pepper, spice, violets, and raspberry. Often blended with Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cinsault to make regional wines like Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The Old World style ages well and pairs beautifully with blue cheese or barbecue.
“Shiraz” refers to Australia. Barossa Valley is responsible for some of the highest rated wines in the world of this varietal. Australian Shiraz will typically have a New World flavor, much sweeter and riper. The warmer climate produces lower acidity with softer tannins and flavors of dark blackberry, black currant, chocolate, and spice.
Petite Sirah is not exactly related. Grown in California, this grape is a different varietal mostly from the Durif grape which actually originated in France. It is often blended with other grapes, such as Zindandel.
Syrah and Shiraz can also be made in the U.S., Switzerland, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand and more. In these areas of the world, the winemaker may choose to label the varietal based on their intentions for the wine. Because the grape has such thick, dark skin and high tannin, many winemakers will cold soak the grapes for days. This extended maceration increases the color and fruitiness, but reduces the harsh tannin.
The best way to decipher is to try them. Get one of each! With high amounts of anti-oxidants, it’s practically good for your health. Time to test your taste buds and train your pallet.
Cheers. Proost. Sláinte. Salute. Salud.
– Jordan Lacenski: Founder & Chief Innovation Officer of BrandBoss Creative