Wine 2 minutes 04 November 2022

Shiraz vs Syrah: Five Wines To Try in Australia

Robert Parker Wine Advocate reviewer Erin Larkin on 5 shiraz/syrah wines to enjoy now.

What's the difference between shiraz and syrah? 

Shiraz is the name given to the syrah grape in Australia, but the use of syrah has crept into labelling and has come to mean something different from the ubiquitous shiraz. The distinction comes down to warm climate vs cool climate wines, and the resultant fruit weight, tannin density, and construction in the winery. The cooler styles err on the side of syrah, while the robust warmer styles—for which the Barossa Valley is well-known—are usually labelled shiraz.

Raise a glass with Robert Parker Wine Advocate Australian reviewer Erin Larkin as she breaks down the differences and highlights shiraz and syrah wines to try now.

Edenflo Eden Valley Syrah, 2021
The 2021 Eden Valley Syrah is co-fermented with 1% each of Roussanne and Viognier, which imbues the wine with a floral, exotic aromatic flick. This is excellent. It's savory, silky and spicy with layers and layers of elegant syrah fruit (mulberry, blueberry, licorice and raspberry) with an overlay (integrated) of viscosity and floral character. It has graphite tannins, black tea, raspberry leaf tea, and some beetroot. This wine would pick up on the exotic spice flavours in Peking duck, while the richness of the meat pairing offsets the tannins in the fruit. More from RPWA

Ben Glaetzer Amon-Ra Shiraz, 2020 Barossa Valley
I've looked at this wine many times over the years, almost exclusively as an older/cellared wine. The impact it's made is strong, and so it's through this lens that I now view this 2020 Amon Ra shiraz—concentrated, dense, and absolutely, utterly saturated with flavor. The fruit that spirals within the bounds of the firm tannins is fleshy and pure, and with the knowledge that the wine sails through the decade with noiseless grace, it's all the more impressive in its infancy now. A brilliant wine—all ductile and proud. This is a brilliant take on the classic Barossa shiraz; it’s powerful and robust, but it's detailed as well. Pair this with a classic Wagyu steak and a simple pepper sauce. More from RPWA

Bunch of shiraz/syrah grape © Alexandralaw1977/iStock
Bunch of shiraz/syrah grape © Alexandralaw1977/iStock
2020 Standish Schubert’s Theorum Shiraz, Barossa Valley

This wine was made with fruit from the Roennfeldt Road vineyard in Marananga, with 70% whole bunches in the ferment. This is the only cuvée in the collection that sees any inclusion of a different maturation vessel: the northeastern corner of the vineyard goes into concrete, because it retains the pure blue fruit character that so define the wine. When one considers the dirt that's in this vineyard (and I ask you, without dirt, where would we be?), when one sees its black, shaley sparkle, one can get a sense of what to expect in the wine.

It's always the black, brooding beast of the pack, but there is always a core of very pure fruit at its heart. This year is no different, and it is encased in fine but structuring tannin. It soars long across the palate, and yet within it, this wine is elegant and pliable. If the Lamella is the intriguing, pretty wine, and The Standish is the savory powerhouse, then The Relic is the iron fist–velvet glove... which makes this the enigma. I cannot overstate how attracted I am to the prowling, slinking nature of it. The tannins here—of all the wines—have a blueberry skin gravel to them; they are chalky and fine and a little bit gritty… excellent. This is a sensation, in every respect. A hot contender for best wine in the release this year.

This is a big, concentrated wine, and can stand up to strong flavours. The mistake here would be to assume that those flavours must be blunt to match the power of the fruit. Detail detail detail. This wine pairs sensationally well Manjimup black truffle, and seared Wagyu. More from RPWA

2020 Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Syrah

2020 was a wild ride in Western Australia: the yields were down across the board, berries were smaller due to dry conditions, and the resultant reds (it doesn't really matter which region you consider, they're all relevant to this point) are tannic and plush. Neither fruit concentration nor tannin density and ripeness were a problem in 2020. So, the gorgeous floral nose that is in the glass of this 2020 Isolation Ridge shiraz is even more intriguing and exciting when viewed in that context. There are notes of orange zest, chinotto, lavender, jasmine tea, raspberry leaf tea, red licorice and pomegranate. This is a beguiling wine: it has the combination of the tannins that we so love from Frankland River and the florals that came to this vineyard in this season. The Smith Cullam is possessed of the same floral character. Special wines. And what to pair it with? Japanese beef tataki. More from RPWA

2020 Clarendon Hills Liandra Syrah, McLaren Vale
This wine comes from a single vineyard, with 25-year-old vines. Very pretty nose! The 2020 Liandra Syrah shows hints of bergamot and black tea, floral and fennel spice. This is a gorgeous wine—supple, excellent. I love the tannins, which are pliable and flexible. This is the Eden Valley Shiraz of McLaren Vale: mineral, dark and thrilling. It is stylistically quite different from the other Clarendon Hills wines, and I love it for that. Try pairing this with slow-roasted five-spice pork shoulder. More from RPWA
Barossa Valley vineyards at sunset © moisseyev/iStock
Barossa Valley vineyards at sunset © moisseyev/iStock

Hero image: Barossa Valley vineyards © BenGoode/iStock


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