Let’s be honest, once in your lifetime you probably asked the clerk at the wine store what the difference between Shiraz and Syrah was.
Admit it. I’m sure I did!
But, of course you know now…they are indeed the same grape. Syrah is considered old world style and Shiraz is new world style.
New world, old world, what is all this non-sense talk?! Well, new world to me, is anything grown and produced outside of Europe. Old world is Europe. But that being said, winemakers can make their wines in an “old world” style (and the grapes reflect those characteristics) in a new world country.
Shiraz of course is typically found in Australia (but not exclusively) and it’s known for its fruity-ness (jammy-ness – aka – jam that you add to your peanut butter). Where Syrah is found in California, BC, Europe and South Africa to name a few. Syrah usually showing notes of pepper, deep red fruits and earthiness.
So now that we’ve clarified that, let’s talk Shiraz.
I know everyone says “oh Shiraz, its sooo jammy”. Well, yes it can be when you try some Australian bottles. However, have you ever tried a South African Shiraz? Yes, I said South African. This will undoubtedly change your mind about Shiraz all together! I’s got new world and old world styles in one bottle. It’s unique and unforgettable. Are you a little intrigued?
Recently, I got to enjoy a friends 13-year old Shiraz from Nederburg in South Africa. We paired it with a Chicken pasta with tomato sauce. All I pre-determined (in his cellar, based on what I knew) was that I expected it to be a farm like experience. Upon opening – cigar leaves, tobacco, stewed fruits and farmyard funk jumped out of the glass and into my nose. But, as we let it air, it changed. The cigar leaves faded slightly, laurel or eucalyptus appeared, hints of natural black liquorice, stewed cherries and plums danced around as the soft tannins swam across the palate like a velvet blanket. The farmyard funk showed more earthy tones – without it being obtrusive. Pure delight! This complex bottle aged so well. Why did I love it? Because, a good wine to me has layers, you need to keep discovering it’s characteristics in every sip and swirl and sniff. And this one did just that.
So my challenge is to all the Shiraz (it’s so jammy!!) non-drinkers out there, is to start trying Shiraz from South Africa. I am positive you will have a new appreciation for the winemaking in South Africa, the varietal and what a departure it is from the “typical” Australian style.