Syrah is a versatile grape that can be planted in many climates and the reflection of the environment in which it is grown is evident in the wine produced. Syrahs range from what is called “Cold Climate” Syrah to “Warm Climate” Syrah with the later often being associated with Australian or South African wines and called Shiraz. Syrah is a dark-skinned grape variety grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce red wine. DNA profiling in 1999 found Syrah to be the offspring of two obscure grapes from southeastern France, Dureza and Mondeuse blanche.
Both Shiraz and Syrah derive from the exact same grape varietal. European countries that label their wines by varietal use the term Syrah. In France the wines are labelled by region not varietal, but the wines from regions such as H’ermitage are usually mostly Syrah. Syrah is the great grape of the northern Rhône, responsible for savoury and peppery wines of Hermitage, and the slightly more seductively perfumed (traditionally co-fermented with viognier) Côte-Rôtie.
In Australia and South Africa, the term Shiraz is used almost exclusively. In countries outside of Europe, South Africa and Australia, the term Syrah is mostly used. When Shiraz is used, it usually means that it is more closely aligned with the Australian winemaking style.
To see how these wine would match up with the cuisine of Northern California and to learn about the differences in terroir and winemaking styles throughout Napa Valley and Sonoma County we held a Single Varietal Tasting of Syrah / Shiraz at The Napa Valley Wine Academy.
Sommeliers from some of the best restaurants throughout Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and Northern California regularly attend the tasting to see the fabulous array of wines we present. Wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma County make a number of very food friendly wines like Syrah and we love to showcase their wines to this appreciative audience.
We will be hosting additional tastings throughout the year, including Sauvignon Blanc in June; Grenache in September; and Petite Sirah in November. If you are a winery that would like your wine showcased or a sommelier actively working in a Northern California restaurant, please feel free to reach out to me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be invited.
The Sommeliers felt that while most of the wines were of excellent quality, the ones that paired best with the Napa Valley cuisine were the ones that were the least minipulated. Additionally, the cooler climate wines seemed to pair better with most Northern California restaurant cuisine, although some of the Sommeliers indicated that their spicier dishes and more robust cuisine would go with the heartier wines presented. No wines were judged in any manner, but the goal was to educate our Sommeliers on the local terroirs producing this varietal and the winemaker styles, so that they could be knowledge about their presentation of these varietals to their restaurant guests.
The extensive wine list presented at our May tasting included the following wines / wineries. These included a couple of ringers from outside the area and a guest winemaker from Chile that presented his wine as well.
|Other Varietal(s)||Appellation||Sub Appellation||Vineyard||Retail||Alcohol|
|Acorn Winery||2012||Axiom Syrah||98%||2% Viognier||Sonoma County||Russian River Valley||Alegria Estate Vineyard||$ 34.00||14.5%|
|Anaba Wines||2012||Sonoma Valley Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Moon Mountain District||Bismark Vineyard||$ 38.00||14.3%|
|August Briggs||2012||Syrah||100%||Napa Valley||Oak Knoll District||Page Nord Vineyard||$ 32.00||14.7%|
|Canihan Vineyards||2011||Exuberance Syrah||95%||5% Viognier||Sonoma County||Estate Vineyard||$ 49.00||13.5%|
|Ceja Vineyards||2011||Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Sonoma Coast||Adobe Vineyard||$ 38.00||13.8%|
|Cline Cellars||2013||Los Carneros Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Los Carneros||Carneros Estate||$ 30.00||14.5%|
|Cornerstone Cellars||2012||Black Label Syrah||100%||Napa Valley||REI Soda Canyon Vineyard||$ 40.00||14.9%|
|Darioush Winery||2012||Signature Shiraz||100%||Napa Valley||Oak Knoll District||Darioush Estate Vineyards in
Napa Valley and Oak Knoll
|Davis Family Winery||2012||Syrah||97%||3% Viognier||Sonoma County||Russian River Valley||Soul Patch Estate Vineyard||$ 42.00||14.1%|
|Deerfield||2009||Estate Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Sonoma Valley||Deerfield Estate Vineyard||$ 32.00||14.1%|
|Domaine des Entrefaux
|2013||Les Champs Fourne||100%||France, Northern Rhone, Côtes du Rhône||Crozes Hermitage||Domaine des Entrefaux – Owner/Winemaker Francois Tardy owns some of Crozes’ best vineyards. Pebbly, limestone, terraced vineyards.||$ 21.00||12.5%|
|Elderton “Estate” Shiraz, Barossa Valley||2012||Elderton “Estate” Shiraz||100%||South Australia||Nuriootpa sub-region of Barossa Valley||Elderton’s “Home Block”||$ 30.00||14.0%|
|Eric Kent Wines||2012||Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Los Carneros||Las Madres Vineyard||$ 44.00||14.4%|
|Everett Ridge||2012||Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Dry Creek Valley||Estate Vineyard||$ 36.00||14.9%|
|Failla Wines||2012||Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Fort Ross-Seaview||Failla Estate Vineyard||$ 60.00||14.1%|
|Frick Winery||2011||Syrah||87%||13% Viognier||Sonoma County||Dry Creek Valley||Owl Hill Estate Vineyard||$ 24.00||14.3%|
|HdV||2012||Californio Syrah||100%||Napa Valley||Los Carneros||Hyde Vineyard||$ 75.00||12.5%|
|Longboard Vineyards||2012||Syrah||89%||2.5% Carignane, 2% Grenache, 2.5% Malbec, 2% Zinfandel, 1.5% Petit Syrah||Sonoma County||Russian River Valley||Dakine Estate Vineyards||$ 45.00||14.3%|
|MacLaren Winery||2011||Drouthy Neebors Syrah||100%||Sonoma County & Napa Valley||50% Samantha’s, Russian River + 33% Atoosa’s, Russian River + 17% Stagecoach, Napa||$ 35.00||13.5%|
|Miner Family Winery||2010||La Diligence Syrah||100%||Napa Valley||Stagecoach Vineyard||$ 40.00||13.9%|
|Mira Winery||2010||Mira “Hyde” Syrah||100%||Napa Valley||Los Carneros||Hyde Vineyard||$ 42.00||14.5%|
|Montemaggiore||2010||Estate Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Dry Creek Valley||Paolo’s Estate Vineyard||$ 38.00||14.8%|
|Nero||2013||Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Bennett Valley||Steiner Vineyard||$ 24.00||15.2%|
|Pasterick||2009||Syrah||97%||3% Viognier||Sonoma County||Dry Creek Valley||Pasterick Vineyard||$ 48.00||14.8%|
|Pax Mahle||2011||Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Russian River Valley||Castelli Knight Ranch||$ 64.00||14.9%|
|Peay Vineyards||2012||Les Titans Estate Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Sonoma Coast||Estate Vineyard||$ 56.00||12.7%|
|Ramey Cellars||2012||Syrah||88%||12% Viognier||Sonoma County||Sonoma Coast||Rogers Creek Vineyard||$ 65.00||14.5%|
|Red Car||2011||Syrah||Sonoma County||Fort Ross – Seaview||Estate Vineyard||$ 55.00||12.7%|
|Starmont||2012||Estate Syrah||92%||8% Vigonier||Napa Valley||Los Carneros||Stanly Ranch Estate Vineyard||$ 45.00||14.5%|
|Truchard Vineyards||2013||Estate Syrah||100%||Napa Valley||Los Carneros||Truchard Estate Vineyard||$ 30.00||14.3%|
|Two Shepards||2012||Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Russian River Valley||Saralee’s Vineyard||$ 38.00||13.2%|
|Unti Vineyards||2012||Benchland Syrah||100%||Sonoma County||Dry Creek Valley||Estate Vineyard, Benchland Block||$ 40.00||14.8%|
|Ventisquero Winery||2009||100%||Chilean Wine||Estate|
|Vermeil Wines||2010||Syrah||91%||9% Petite Sirah||Napa Valley||Calistoga||Frediani Vineyard||$ 38.00||14.9%|
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