Syrah wine has long been regarded as one of the darkest red wines on the market. A full-bodied wine that boasts mouth-drying tannins and many wonderful flavours such as berries, pepper and smoked meat. However, only few wine lovers truly know of the origins of this exquisite grape variety.
Syrah Wine: Its Origins
There are numerous myths surrounding the emergence of the Syrah grape including a Roman emperor planting the grape in 280 A.D to a winemaker from Iran bringing the vines with him to France in 600 B.C. Regardless of how the grape arrived in France, what is known is that the French made this grape variety what it is today.
Coming to prominence in the eighteenth century, Syrah wines are famously grown in Northern Rhône and have become one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. A quintessential Mediterranean-climate variety, its memorable earthy-herbaceous aromas leave a lasting impression on many wine tasters.
Typically grown in moderate and hot climates, this grape needs plenty of sun in order to ripen due to their thick skins. Many winemakers note that “Syrah likes a view” as it is generally grown towards the top of the hill. Soil is generally poorer at the top of the hill, and this makes the vine struggle and produce more concentrated grapes.
At the height of its popularity, many winemakers from around the world began to grow this grape variety. One such place is Australia, where Syrah is also known as Shiraz wine. Barossa Valley in Australia produces some of the highest-rated Syrah wines in the world. The Australian Shiraz come in a variety of styles and differ in flavours to its French counterpart, offering hints of blackberry, sweet spice and dark chocolate.
It is also extremely useful as a blending grape and commonly blended in Southern Rhône with any combination of Grenache, Carignan and Cinsaut due to its deep colour and high tannins.
What Are The Defining Characteristics Of This Grape Variety?
Syrah and Shiraz is beautifully expressive and offers many unique structural components. As we have mentioned before, one of the most striking characteristics of this grape is its appearance. This dark-coloured inky wine is known for its deep purple hue and lack of translucency.
Syrah’s velvety elegance packs a punch on the opening palate with bold flavours of dark-fruit and crunchy spice. However, climate plays a large role in the flavour profile of this grape. This is one of the defining characteristics that make this grape truly unique.
Cooler climates such as Northern Rhône or parts of Western Australia bring out hints of mint, pepperiness and spice on the aftertaste. While warmer climates change the flavour profile to include notes of blackberry, chocolate and gamey aftertastes as it ages. Typical flavours of this grape include blackberries, plums, black cherries, flowers, earth, chocolate, pepper and truffles.
Pairing Options: Which Food Suits Best
Thanks to its rich flavour profile, pairing Syrah wine is a delightful experience. The perfect match to a diverse array of wine and food pairings, it is best paired with smoked or grilled meat and stewed dishes.
For a lighter Syrah from a cooler climate, pair with grilled lamb. The natural flavours of the wine compliment perfectly with the delicateness of the meat. When pairing a bolder full-bodied Syrah wine, it is best to pair with a dish that can match its weight such as barbecue pork. Spicing the meat with pepper and cumin will help to bring out the fruitiness in the wine.
Best Syrah Wines To Try In Ontario
Finding some great examples of Syrah wines in Ontario is simple but to get the best tasting experience, try out the varieties that are on offer with a trusted wine agent.
A perfect example of a classic Syrah wine from the Rhône region is the Domaine Etienne Pochon – Crozes Hermitage 2016. It is produced with 100% Syrah and no use of oak. This wine offers a ruby red appearance and a youthful nose of red fruits, white pepper and bacon fat. The palate is medium bodied and dry with hints of light licorice, plums and black cherry.
Or perhaps try the Colognole – Syrah 2016 from Toscana in Italy. This take on the classic French variety is perfumed with dark red fruits and black pepper. Gentle yet compact tannins are experienced on the palate with a long life trajectory. This wine excellently pairs with game especially stewed deer or wild boar.
Yet, not all notable Syrah wines are produced in Europe and Australia. Looking for something a little closer to home? Try the Sandhill – Syrah 2016, produced and grown in the Okanagan Valley. This medium-bodied, soft tannin wine offers hints of red fruits, mushroom, delicate spice and a touch of oak. Pair with a prime rib roast and winter root vegetables.