Wine Varieties

What’s the difference between Shiraz and Syrah?

The grape mystery explained

Shiraz is Australia’s most planted grape variety. Barossa Valley Shiraz is an iconic style that made Australian wine world-famous. A typical Barossan Shiraz is big, bold, and jammy. 

 

But have you noticed lately that an increasing number of Australian winemakers, in particular from cool climates like Tasmania, are now calling their Shiraz wines ‘Syrah’?

 

So what is the difference between Shiraz and Syrah?

Put simply, they are wines made from the same grape but made in a different style.

 

The decision to name them Shiraz or Syrah is one way of communicating that difference.

 

The Old World style of Syrah, made in France and in particular the Rhône region, tends to be lighter and leaner in style and more restrained in flavour with more savoury notes.

 

New World Shiraz from Australia tends to be full-bodied with rich, fruit-forward flavours.

In other words, Shiraz tends to be the expression used for wine made with grapes grown in a warm climate region, whereas Syrah tends to be grown in cool climates.

 

This is why winemaker in New Zealand, despite being considered a New World winemaking country, call the wine Syrah as the entire country is considered a cool climate wine region.

 

Tasmania is a cool climate wine region, which is why some of the producers are growing Shiraz/Syrah grapes, but are calling the wines Syrah, so customers know to expect a leaner style than the punchy, juicy Shiraz wines from the Barossa.