Outside of France, Australia has become the biggest producer of Shiraz as it is grown in almost all regions across the country. In particular the Barossa Valley Shiraz, from which Australian Shiraz has become most famous is a big muscular, high tannin, high alcohol wine full of plum, black fruit laced with American oak flavours of vanilla, coconut and dark chocolate is a very different style to the delicate, elegant earthy styles that are produced in the Rhone Valley.
However some regions within the cooler climates of Australia have been producing softer and more elegant styles of Shiraz, akin to those from France for decades and as the allure for these styles has grown, some producers have been labelling their wines Syrah. A homage, if you will, to the French style. Professional
So why do Australian’s call Syrah, Shiraz?
Perhaps it is because the father of the Australian Wine Industry, James Busby imported our vines from France and up until 1999 these vines were thought to have originated from the Iranian city Shiraz. (The 1999 study found that Shiraz is the offspring of two obscure grape varieties from the south east of France, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche). However it is most likely that the name ‘Shiraz’ is simply an Australian corruption of the word Syrah.
Syrah in France tends to be grown in cool climates along the Rhone River. The style of wine produced there is elegant, light in tannins and carry flavours of pepper, blue fruits and herbaceousness. These French wines are wonderful and expensive.
The Great Southern Region in Western Australia is thought to be similar in climate to that of the Rhone; thus more Shiraz produced from this region is being labelled as Syrah to indicate a difference in style to that of the typically know Australian Shiraz.
Capel Vale’s Whispering Hill vineyard, located on the edge of the Porongorup Ranges in Mount Barker produces an elegantly soft, spicy Syrah style Shiraz with peppery overtones and a perfumed nose of violets and bramble. Names aside Capel Vale produces an old world style with fruit intensity of the new world. A style we simply adore.