Paroles de vignerons - Vinparleur - Winzer talk

#SYRAH - OUR GRAPE VARIETY OF THE MONTH

13 February 2015, by Sebastian Nickel

Despite its somehow exotic name, the origins of SYRAH are indeed to be found in the northern Rhone Valley. Originated from a cross breeding between WHITE MONDEUSE from Savoy and BLACK DUREZA from the Ardèche region, people preferred to maintain that its origins are more mysterious, referring to the Romans, the Syrians and the Persians, as well as to distant cities like Syracuse in Sicily or Shiraz in Iran . The fact is none of that. Despite its modest and more « down to earth » origins, SYRAH nowadays enjoys a growing popularity all over the world.

syrah

With some 185,000 hectares of vines planted, it’s now one of the ten most frequent grape varieties on our planet (although it remains far behind the mastodons CABERNET and MERLOT). A great success for this little girl FRENCH LADY, which feels as comfortable on the hills of L’HERMITAGE as in the vineyards of the MEDITERRANEAN, in CALIFORNIA or AUSTRALIA (which it’s commonly named SHIRAZ).

From a viticulture point of view, you could almost call her a DIVA. She wears her fine grape and small black berries more like jewelry than vulgar fruits and its fragile branches ask for support by careful trellising. Since the 1990s, a mysterious disease or rather a poorly understood phenomenon appeared, known as the « SYRAH DECLINE ». Cracks appear on the graft union between the plant and its rootstock, the foliage flushes and finally the plant dies ... Several years may pass between the onset of phenomena and final death of the plant, but no cure is known to date and reasons for decline have not yet been elucidated, even if « the clone" stays the main suspect for the moment (for each grape variety there are indeed several clones. Some clones of Syrah seem to be particularly susceptible to decline. They are now unsuitable for planting).

clones syrah

From a gustatory point of view SYRAH is capable of EVERYTHING! Known and recognized for the straight, fine and elegant wines it produces in the northern Rhone Valley, it is no less famous for her curves and the seductive delicacy she shows in a warmer climate. Pepper and licorice, cassis, raspberry and violet, truffle, cocoa ... depending on the ripeness of the grapes and the age of the wine, the aromatic range of SYRAH seems to stretch from one horizon to the other. Red and dark as sin, with fabulous tanins structures and sometimes able to live for decades - SYRAH belongs to the most beautiful grape varieties that man (and woman) have ever selected.

SYRAH likes to be panted in higher altitudes, as noticed YVES GIGONDAS in vineyards of VAISON-LA-ROMAINE and GIGONDAS, but it may also produce real miracles around the MEDITERRANEAN. And even NATHALIE, a girl real girl from the champagne region, confesses she has a weakness for wines from SAINT JOSEPH, as well as for PIERRE’S SYRAH that grows in the dry and stony terroir of LES ASPRES in the MINERVOIS.



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