Dureza is a dark-skinned wine grape variety from the Ardèche area of southern France in the Rhône-Alpes region. Historically Dureza was used for producing red wines, but today is hardly grown and is not part of the list of the allowed grape varieties of any French AOP wine, though it can be used to produce some IGP wines.
There were only 11 hectares planted with Dureza in the late 1970s: by 1988 it was believed that only one hectare remained. However since the variety's relationship to Syrah was revealed, interest in Dureza has been increasing with new plantings of the grape in the Saint-Joseph AOC in the northern Rhône Valley. The Dureza grape is most widely recognized today for being a parent vine of Syrah.
As at some point the Dureza vine spread eastward towards the Drôme and Isère regions, for it was here that the variety likely came in contact with the Savoie wine grape Mondeuse Blanche where the two varieties created a natural crossing that became the international variety Syrah. DNA mapping has also revealed some relationship to the Italian wine grape variety Lagrein grown in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region of northeast Italy, though the exact relationship is still unclear. The most recent research from Swiss grape geneticist Dr. José Vouillamoz, completed in 2006, suggests that Dureza might be an ‘uncle’ to Lagrein and connected together by another red Italian wine grape, Teroldego.
Dureza is known as a vigorous vine, capable of producing high yields, though the variety tends to ripen late in the season - which may explain its name: Dureza which is connected to the root of the Latin term ‘serus’, meaning 'late’.
The parentage however, does not reveal how old the grape variety is - though in the year AD 77, Pliny the Elder wrote in his Naturalis Historia about the wines of Vienne (which today would be called Côte-Rôtie), where the Allobroges made famous and prized wine from a dark-skinned grape variety that had not existed some 50 years earlier. Pliny called the vines of this wine Allobrogica, and it has been speculated that it could be today's Syrah. However, the description of the wine would also fit, for example, Dureza, and Pliny's observation that the vines of Allobrogica were resistant to cold, which is not the case for Syrah.