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Syrah of the World Comparison Tasting

Syrah of the World Comparison Tasting

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Event Description

This is the fourth in our exciting series of grape variety tastings showcasing some of the best examples across the world of wine of a given variety. On this evening, we will be tasting eight fantastic expressions of Syrah/Shiraz with two examples from France and then six from further afield including South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, California, Washington State and Chile. As always on these tastings, wine school founder Jimmy Smith will be including full WSET examiner’s tasting notes.


The grape is known in the Rhône as Syrah and may well have been grown there since Roman times. It is certainly well-adapted to the steep terraces by the side of the river Rhône around Ampuis for Côte Rôtie and Tain for Hermitage, in each case on vineyards carefully angled to make the most of the available sunshine. For this northern bit of the Rhône can be so much cooler than, for example, Châteauneuf-du-Pape 150 km to the south.

The trademark flavour of French Syrah is black pepper (aroma: rotundone). A good Hermitage certainly has this in spades, but can mature into something more redolent of leather and, in very ripe years, spice. Côte Rôtie is different again. Traditionally it was the stereotypical female to Hermitage's very obvious masculinity – indeed a small proportion of heady white Viognier grapes were used to perfume and lighten the blend. Today, you can still find these delicate, very fine reds in Côte Rôtie. In the southern Rhône, around Châteauneuf-du-Pape in appellations such as Gigondas and Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages, Syrah plays an important though usually subordinate role, typically adding structure to the dominant Grenache grape and other local specialities such as Mourvèdre – for Syrah grapes are relatively small and high in colour and tannins. There are signs that Syrah is falling out of favour relative to Mourvèdre in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Apart from this great swathe of south-eastern France, Syrah's other important dominion is Australia, where it has been known as Shiraz for generations. If black pepper is the French trademark, dark chocolate is that of Shiraz produced from one or, more often, some of Australia's hotter vineyards. Barossa Valley Shiraz can be positively unctuous – so rich in fact that some producers deliberately add tannin to give the wines backbone.

Wines on Tasting:

    • Scions of Sinai ‘Swanesang’ Syrah, Helderberg, South Africa, 2020
    • Trinity Hill, Hawke’s Bay Syrah, New Zealand, 2019
    • Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Shiraz, Frankland River, Australia, 2018
    • Les Jalets Crozes-Hermitage, Paul Jaboulet, 2018
    • Farconnet Hermitage, Sélection J L Chave, 2015
    • Gramercy Cellars Lower East Syrah, Washington State, 2017
    • Joseph Swan Estate, Trenton Syrah, Russian River, 2011
    • Underraga ‘TH’ Syrah, Valle de Leyda, Chile, 2019/20

How to get there

The Wine Cellars, Fulham, SW6 2SG
71 Townmead Road (access via Big Yellow Storage), Fulham, London

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