Syrah is the only grape used to make the famous Rhone wines of Cote Rotie and Hermitage, but also forms the backbone of the Rhone blends from Chateauneuf du Pape. This grape is called "Syrah" in France and the United States and "Shiraz" in Australia, South Africa, and Canada. There was a great debate as to whether the origin of Syrah came from Persia (Iran) near the city of Shiraz (meaning: city of flowers) or from France. It was thought that Syrah had been transplanted from Persia to France in the 13th Century; however, DNA profiling at UC Davis and Montpellier France proved Syrah was indigenous to France. The parent grapes of Syrah are the obscure varietals Mondeuse Blanc and Dureza. Although cultivated since antiquity, Syrah has been recently planted in the United States. California's "Rhone Rangers" planted Syrah in the 1970's, Washington State was planted in 1985, and Oregon in the 1990's. Australia has had Shiraz since 1832; however, there have constantly been ups & downs with their market share. Recently, they have seen a big spike of plantings in the 1970's & 1980's and have not looked back since.
Syrah is often times confused with Petite Sirah or Durif. Petite Sirah is a cross between Peloursin & Syrah. It was created by Dr. Francois Durif with similarities to Syrah except that it has more body & tannins due to it being a smaller, thicker-skinned grape. The Syrah/Shiraz explosion has been led by Australia over the past two decades. This explosion Down Under has also led to a difference in the New World Shiraz -vs- the Old World Syrah of Rhone. Shiraz produced in Australia is generally leaner than those produced in France, with softer tannins and more leather and blackberry flavors.
The question a consumer is faced with is whether you like your Syrah to be bright, jammy, and young or big, tannic, and oaky. Winemakers produce both styles and this can cause some confusion with consumers who associate certain flavors and characteristics with their wine. Syrah can be loaded with intense color, a chewy, rich texture, and fruit like blackberry and currants or it can have a real spicy/herbal characteristic of pepper, thyme, cedar, clove and licorice. Syrah is also often high in alcohol due to elevated sugar levels and hot weather viticulture. The bouquet can range from earthy, musk, smoke, and leather to vanilla, coconut, and sweet wood. With such a wide variety of descriptors and an overall drinking friendliness, Syrah has gained a mass appeal and popularity rivaling that of Merlot on the world wine market.
2014 Oswego Hills Syrah
Our fruit comes from a highly sought after vineyard adjacent to the Red Hills of Washington State. This Syrah is a rich, massive, densely flavored wine, packed with syrupy currant, wild berry and boysenberry fruit. A combination of new French and Oregon oak barrels with 20 months of aging add notes of vanilla, cedar and leather. Crushed berry and violet aromas with round; velvety tannins add more depth with an elegant finish to this full-bodied wine. You can drink this wine now or allow it to mature for the next 5-7 years. Syrah is a great stand-alone wine or can be paired with braised chicken, chili, goose, stews, peppercorn meats, barbeque, and the infamous ratatouille.