(seh-RAH/shee-RAHZ) It's a Smokin' Grape Syrah and Shiraz - same grape, different name. It's a popular and adept variety, growing in multiple regions and creating many different styles of wine.
The home base of Syrah is the Northern Rhone, where it creates the exclusive wines of Hermitage and Cote Rotie. On the less pricy side, the Rhone makes Syrah-based wines in Crozes-Hermitage, Cornas and St. Joseph. Syrah made a big splash in Australia, where it's called Shiraz and reigns as the most planted grape of the country. Washington State, Southern and Central California, South Africa and South America are also making wines from Syrah that have substance and style.
Notable Facts Like many world-popular grapes, Syrah can differ in style depending on the climate, region and winemaking techniques. Typical aromas and flavors from most Syrah-based wines include pepper, blackberry and leather or smoke. Australian Shiraz and Central or Southern California Syrah tend to be more dense in fruit flavors, some even jammy - warmer climates lead to riper fruit flavors. Northern Rhone style typically shows more pepper and leather notes, with less upfront fruit. Washington State, South Africa and South America differ in style but usually show the range of Syrah flavors.
Summing it up Successful Sites: Rhone, Australia, California, Washington State, South Africa
Common Descriptors: pepper, blackberry, blueberry, jam, meat, smoke
Learn More About California
California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA
, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA
, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA
, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few.
Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.