Syrah – Shiraz

Syrah 3Syrah 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.

IMG_2230Our tasting was mediated by Christopher Sawyer and our varietal expert was Ehren Jordan (Failla Wines) who not only makes a Syrah, but is an avid fan of the varietal.

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 ( 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.

Winery Year Wine Name Percent
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
 $   74.00 14.8%
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
Crozes Hermitage
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%

#WineEducation #WineSchool #SingleVarietalTastingSeries #Syrah #Shiraz #WineTasting #FoodPairing #NapaValleyWineAcademy #Sommelier #Sommeliers

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