During wine tastings, trade classes, formal chef dinners and even during casual situations. I regularly get asked what is the difference or differences between this grape or this wine. It could be a grape varietal which they have never heard of or tasted or a new winery or label.

So the following series - and yes there are going to be a few. Is going to look at what are the differences between a Syrah and Shiraz. Describing the typical flavour profile characteristics, highlighting 2 drinking now examples and then suggesting a few food pairing ideas for you to try for yourself, the next time you have a bbq, dinner or evening out.
In plain and simple terms - Syrah and Shiraz are both the same grape varietal (originally).

 
 

But - the name gives you a clue to the different expression and reflection of 'terroir' (location, climate, soil) the wine has come from and the style in which it has been made. Along with vintage and other viticultural practices, and winemaking techniques chosen.
Syrah is a red grape varietal traditionally grown in the Rhône Valley of south-eastern France. Since then it has spread to many places around the world including California, Argentina, Chile and more recently, South Africa and New Zealand. But in true Australian fashion due to climate, soil and cultural style the wines have taken on a unique personality, character and their own name.
If an Australian winemaker was to label the wine Shiraz, you can expect a full-bodied, rich, ripe, fruit driven style of wine, with a good level of alcohol - the Australian way.
Syrah on the other hand tends to emphasize dried-herbs, mild spices and subtle earthy notes and slightly softer characters due to a cooler and longer growing season found in France and selected regions in New Zealand. Enjoy them both; they each have their rightful place in your cellar and on your table and both are interesting and rewarding when paired with the right cuisine.

Classic Flavours: blackberries, black olives, dark plums, cassis, cedar, dried spices and herbs, varied peppercorns (e.g. red or black for hot climates & white pepper notes in cooler climates), earthy, even wild mushroom notes.

 

Brookfields Vineyards
2015 'Back Block' Syrah


Grape Varietal:
100% Syrah

Region: Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Owner / Winemaker: Peter Robertson

Brief Tasting Note:
Fruit from their 'Back Block' vineyard at Ohiti Estate. On the nose, ripe plums, spice and subtle pepper. It has enticing dark berry flavours, integrated subtle oak notes and soft tannins. It encapsulates all that is good about Hawke’s Bay Syrah.

Cellaring Potential: Drinking now, plus will age nicely for another 3-4 years.

*NZ$20.90. Serve at 16-18°C. 13.5% Alc.
Hewitson Wines
2015 'Ned & Henry's' Shiraz


Grape Varietal:
100% Shiraz

Region: Barossa Valley, Australia

Owner / Winemaker: Dean Hewitson

Brief Tasting Note:
The nose has mixed dark berry fruits, dried herbs and spices. A generous palate, full and engaging packed with those ripe red and black berry fruits, warm spices, bitter chocolate and subtle earthy, smoky oak notes, and a persistent lingering finish.

Cellaring Potential: Drinking now, plus will age nicely for another 5-6 years.

*NZ$28.90. Serve at 16-18°C. 14% Alc/vol.
 


Classic Food Pairing Suggestions: A lighter, more approachable style Syrah wine pairs well with: lamb chop, cutlets, grilled or bbq'd pork, herb sausages, kebabs etc. A fuller, richer style Shiraz with balanced oak and good tannins, will pair with prime steaks, venison and other game meats, served with a seasoned sauce or wine-jus - enjoy and share the journey.