Syrah is a low-yielding, but high quality, red grape variety, which was originally mostly cultivated in the Rhône Valley in France. In South Africa, Australia, USA and Canada this variety is called Shiraz. The vine has gained such great significance and popularity that meanwhile it is designated as fine vine.
Syrah wines have mostly a strong currant aroma and a delicate fragrance of freshly ground pepper. In case of normal mash fermentation the vine provides a dark-coloured wine with high tannin content, which needs a long bottle maturity to balance the astringency.
Suggestions about Syrah coming from Persia or being already cultivated by the Romans, couldn’t been proved. However, DNA analysis found Syrah to be the crossing of two old grapes from France, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche, hence it is almost certainly derived from the Rhône Valley.
Because Syrah tends to bud late, it is quite resistant to late frosts. However, cold and wet weather during blossoming leads to considerable reductions in yield. This variety is characterized by its small berries. But the ripening can be critical. In case of inclement weather conditions (not enough sunshine) the grapes don’t ripen fully, hence, the right vineyard site is of fundamental importance to meet the special demands of Syrah. In case of full sunshine during ripening the grapes tend to be over-ripening very quickly, and they loose their acid and their rich fruit aroma.
Therefore this variety (in case of perfect ripening considered as one of the worlds greatest wines by wine connoisseurs) was regarded as very difficult, which caused Syrah vineyards to decrease to only 3.000 ha in France in the meantime.