Is Shiraz/Syrah the next Cab?

By John ~ May 26th, 2008.

“I’m a big fan of Shiraz…great quality and value.” –Francis Ford Coppola

While virtually every wine lover is familiar with Syrah from the Rhone Valley in France and Shiraz [sha-RAZZ] from Australia, I am more and more impressed with the quality of Shiraz/Syrah from areas not traditionally known for this grape, such as Washington and California in the United States as well as Chile and South Africa. It is beginning to look like Shiraz/Syrah might become the new Cabernet Sauvignon; a grape that dominates some regions but also makes good wine almost everywhere it is grown.

For example, legendary Penfolds Grange winemaker John Duval from Australia not only has his own Shiraz/Syrah label Down Under [Entity] but also has projects in Washington State [Sequel] and Chile [Pangea].

In California, the Wine Spectator’s James Laube says that Syrah is proving to be that state’s most versatile grape, with two dominate styles emerging. He says that “one features spicy, peppery, wild berry flavors, with tight tannins and pleasant earthy notes, modeled after the wines of Northern Rhone. The other is a riper, more opulent, berry-centered style, more reminiscent of Aussie Shiraz.”

Speaking of Australian Shiraz, many wine aficionados mistakenly think Australia is a newcomer to the wine production business because their imports to the United States have only exploded since the 1980’s. However, when you visit Australia, you quickly realize that the wine industry there is actually older than in the USA when you see winery cornerstones dated from the 1840’s and 1850’s. In fact, Australia has some of the oldest continuously producing vineyards in the world, some over 100 years old. The reason for these ancient vines is that Australia has been free from phylloxera, the pest that ravaged the vineyards of France and California making it necessary to replant vines in those areas by grafting onto phylloxera-resistant rootstock.

It will be interesting to follow the evolution of Shiraz/Syrah in the many new areas of production and see if it will in fact become the next Cab.

What is the best Shiraz/Syrah that you’ve ever had?

Filed under: American Wine, Australian Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Chilean Wine, French Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, South African Wine, Washington State Wine

Reader's Comments

  1. mike beltran | May 1st, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Syrah, for the money is best bought from dependable sources and areas. Good Cdr’s and Aussie wines are priced so much less the wines coming out of the US. I understand that foreign wines are mostly sources from people who own their land and equipment and are not paying huge payments for the same items. I love domestic Syrah, but the prices are on a par with world class Rhone wines, so make a choice— new guy on the block or proven Syrah from consistent growers and vintners. With this economy $$ rules, and it is foolish to spend more than the bottle is worth. There are so many great wines, the choice what to spend and how much a bottle is worth in your mind. Mike B.

  2. Jason | August 19th, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    My favourite shiraz would be either the 100+ year old 1998 Kaye Bros Block 6 Shiraz (McLaren Vale), or the 1996/8 Noon Reserve Shiraz (McLaren Vale). Both almost black in colour and intense in flavour.