Originally, Syrah is from the Rhône Valley, France, however it is planted all around the world today. Within the Rhône Valley, there are two distinct regions: north and south. Globally, Syrah can be planted in cool, warm, and even hot climates. In Australia, Syrah is called Shiraz and is, stylistically, different to traditional Rhône Syrah’s. Syrah is not the same grape as Petit Sirah.
Syrah has small berries with dark skins that can produce large yields with good quality and is reasonably disease resistant. Some quality-focused producers will look for low yields of high quality bunches of Syrah. Conceptually, Syrah can be thought as a middle ground in between Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Syrah has a richer and deeper flavour than Pinot Noir, but softer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah thrives in the sun but is able to master any climate. Weather is what primarily determines the crop quality and Syrah does well in a wide range of soil types.
In New Zealand, Syrah is primarily planted on the North Island. Currently in New Zealand there are 437 hectares of Syrah with the largest plantings (almost 90%) in Hawke’s Bay and Auckland/Northland, including Waiheke Island. Whilst there are not any native vitis vinifera (wine) grapes to New Zealand, Syrah can date its origins in New Zealand back to the mid-1800s.
New Zealand Syrah has a distinctive bright plum, floral, and savoury black pepper flavours with an elegant texture. Beautifully aromatic and fruit-driven, New Zealand Syrah pairs excellently with barbequed meats, flavourful beef dishes, rich tomato-based mains like pizza or pasta, and hard cheeses.