Country of origin: France
Berry color: Blue-black
Common synonyms: Shiraz, Sirah, Syra, Schiras, Sirac, Syrac, Petite Syras
Comments: The TTB-approved prime name is Syrah (Shiraz)
The true origin of Syrah has been shown through DNA testing to be a cross between two French varieties, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. Dureza is an obscure black variety and Mondeuse Blanche is a minor white variety, both of Rhône origin. Previous myths of origin included the Middle East (Shiraz, Persia); Roman importation into Gaul; Syracuse (Sicily); and Syrah Island, Greece. Syrah has been known in the Rhône Valley of France for many centuries where it has recently had a resurgence of popularity. Only 3,300 acres remained in 1958, but by the mid-1990s, plantings in southern France had increased to more than 86,000 acres. It is classified as recommended in the Rhône Valley, Provence, Languedoc, and southwest France; it is used in the production of AOC wines such as those of Hermitage, Cotes-du-Rhône, and Coteaux du Languedoc. The second largest plantings are in Australia where it is the leading red wine variety. Significant plantings also exist in South Africa and South America. Interest in the variety did not become widespread in California until the 1980s. It is now grown in a wide range of districts from the Central Valley and Sierra foothills to all but the coolest coastal districts.
Syrah is a very vigorous variety with a spreading growth habit and a tendency to produce long, trailing shoots. Growth can be excessive on deep, fertile soils and with high-vigor rootstocks.
A versatile variety, Syrah is well adapted to a wide range of viticultural temperature regions, winery uses, and wine styles. Used to produce varietal table wines of distinct character in the cooler districts, it also has demonstrated high potential for red table wine production in the warmer districts, including the San Joaquin Valley. It has good blending qualities for deep color and not overly tannic, fruity aromas, producing popular blends such as Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz, an Australian conception, as well as traditional Rhône blends. Dessert wine potential is high, with Australian Port-type wines as good precedents.
L. Peter Christensen |
Rhonda J. Smith
Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis is the source of Foundation grapevine material for the nursery industry, and the staff can provide information about possible sources for obtaining this stock.
The National Grape Registry (NGR) contains information about varieties of wine, juice, and table grapes, raisins, and grape rootstocks available in the United States. Growers, nurseries, winemakers and researchers can find background information and source contacts for those grape varieties in this single convenient location.
Farquhar, W. 2006. SAVII Shiraz Clonal Selection (PDF). Foundation Plant Services Grape Program Newsletter, Fall 2006:6-7.
Smith, R. 2004. The Origin of the Durell Syrah (PDF). Foundation Plant Services Grape Program Newsletter. Fall 2004:10-11.