Why do we call Scion’s Shiraz by the varietal’s French name, Syrah? Because everything sounds sexier in French, right? While you may agree with this sentiment, it’s actually all to do with the style of wine we make from this popular varietal.
There is no difference between the grape varieties Shiraz and Syrah – they are the same thing. The wonder of Shiraz/Syrah is that it can be crafted into many different styles – and therefore tastes. This is dependent on location, climate, soil and winemaking.
In Australia it’s generally accepted that Syrah is lighter, more elegant and much finer structure and style, whereas Shiraz is typically richer, bolder, deeper and darker.
Wine commentator Clare Burder explains in her book TIPSY (2015):
“Que Syrah, Syrah... In its homeland in France (mainly the Rhone Valley), Shiraz is called ‘Syrah’, and it’s typically made into medium- (sometimes full-) bodied, dense, elegant and fragrant wines. In Australia, we tend to make bolder, riper wines and call them Shiraz. Both are wonderful! There is, however, a movement of Australian producers making French-style wines and calling them ‘Syrah’ to identify that they are different to the traditional bold style. They might be softer, spicier and less ripe…”
We love how writer Christine Austin personifies Shiraz/Syrah in an article published in the Yorkshire Post (15 March 2017):
“I like to think of this grape as two distinct personalities. While Shiraz is the chap you might find leaning up against a bar in the local pub, somewhat loud, brash and full of character, you will find Syrah dining in a restaurant, still with bags of personality, but he takes some time to get to know. Winemakers around the world decide whether their wine is the guy in the bar or the one in the restaurant depending on the style of the wine they have made. I like both, depending on my mood and the occasion. “