By Robert Kleffel and Noemí Paz

Shiraz – Syrah


Roberto-y-NoemiThe first thing that we need to clear up is that wines sold under the names Shiraz and Syrah are produced from the same grape. In France, Syrah is the name used but the French use the appellation name rather than the grape shown on the bottle. The grapes originated in the Rhone area of France. In the southern part of the Rhone, the Shiraz grapes are blended with the Grenache grape. One of the famous blends is Chateauneuf du Pape (New Home of the Pope). In 1157, in keeping with Roman tradition, Geoffrey, the Bishop of Avignon, planted vines and personally managed his own estate and was most certainly the owner of a vineyard located in his fief in Châteauneuf. Chateauneuf du Pape celebrates the period of time when the Catholic Church moved their operations from Rome to Avignon in France from 1309 to 1377.

Australia–The largest producer of the Syrah grape is Australia where it is known as Shiraz. In fact 40% of the red wine production in Australia is Shiraz and the production is higher than any other grape. The aromas and flavors of Shiraz vary with wine style and region, but are usually blackberry, plums, and pepper in varying degrees dependent on growing conditions. In addition, even more regionally based, we can find licorice, tar, bitter chocolate and mocha. Climate affects these characteristics with the warmer climates providing the plums and chocolate (Barossa) and the cooler climates giving more pepper (Victoria).

North and South America–In the new world, both names, Syrah and Shiraz, are used for labeling on the bottles. The Syrah grape production is increasing in the state of Washington and California. Mexico’s Casa de Madero produces an award winning Shiraz which is sold widely in Europe. Chile is rapidly increasing their production of Shiraz.

Pairing–The Shiraz wine is not a good general propose red wine. The heavy tannins in Shiraz love the bitter nature of charred food, so this is a great wine to pair with grilled steaks, peppercorn crusted tuna, and grilled vegetables like zucchini and eggplant.  In fact, the peppery nature of Shiraz makes it a great companion with anything barbecued unless you use a picante Mexican hot sauce for flavoring. The Shiraz grape is a “big red” which will dominate delicate foods. Also remember that big red wines with high tannins don’t go with hot spicy foods.

CASA MADERO – SHIRAZ -MEXICO $19.50 Dollars–“ …. Casa Madero Shiraz 2008, from Parras in the Mexican state of Coahuila, was delicious. It exhibited its pure Shiraz personality, with grapey, peppery berry, tobacco, violet and crushed raspberry flavors.”  – A quote from Senior Editor James Laube, The Wine Spectator.

EMILIANA SYRAH – CHILENO   $7.20 Dollars–Very good wine with rich ripe black plums and chocolate over cigar box notes and dried spices. The wine has great complexity and medium plus fruit intensity.

BLACK SWAN -SHIRAZ- AUSTRALIA   $10.50 Dollars–There are flavors of black cherries, peppery spice and mocha enveloped in decadent dark fruit. This is a great wine to pair with grilled meats, pasta dishes and ripe cheeses.

CASILLERO DEL DIABLLO – SHIRAZ – CHILE   $11.25 Dollars–Look for layers of dark chocolate, black cherries and hickory smoke. It is full-bodied, supple and rich.

SANTA DIGNA SYRAH CHILE   $11.85 Dollars–This is an opulent wine, robust with a fine body and silky, rounded tannins. Highlights are its deep purple color and notes of forest fruits: blackberry, violet and hints of blackcurrant. The palate is elegant with character. Ageing in French oak contributes a pleasing toasty background.

General Syrah Wine Characteristics: High tannins, high acidity, blackberry, dark chocolate, mint, eucalyptus, smoked meat, black pepper,licorice, cloves, aged leather, wet leaves and earth.      

Noemí Paz:

Robert Kleffel:



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