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Syrah vs Shiraz: Two names, one grape

Mon 12 Feb 2024

Bottle and glass of IB wine

In the world of wine, few enigmas are as tantalizing as the duality of Syrah and Shiraz. Are they twin siblings separated at birth or distant cousins with a shared ancestry? Spoiler alert, they're one grape with two names.

Picture this: Syrah, the sophisticated French aristocrat, draped in a cloak of elegance and finesse, whispers secrets of its terroir with every sip. Meanwhile, Shiraz, the bold Australian maverick, bursts onto the scene with a flamboyant flourish, boasting of its sun-drenched vineyards and ripe, jammy fruit flavours. 

Syrah and Shiraz are genetically identical, a botanical chameleon capable of morphing its character to reflect its surroundings.  

In the heart of France's Rhône Valley, Syrah reigns supreme, crafting wines of grace and subtlety. Think of it as the Audrey Hepburn of the wine world – refined, timeless, and effortlessly chic. These wines seduce the senses with aromas of black pepper, violets, and dark fruits, leaving a lingering impression that whispers of ancient vineyards and centuries of winemaking tradition. 

Way down south in the sun-drenched vineyards of Australia, Shiraz takes centre stage. Here, it's the Russell Crowe of grapes – bold, brash, and unapologetically intense.

Australian Shiraz flaunts its ripeness with gusto, delivering a knockout punch of blackberry jam, dark chocolate, and a hint of eucalyptus. It's a wine that demands attention, commanding the spotlight with its robust flavour profile and unabashed charisma. 

So, why the different names? It's a tale as old as time, steeped in history and linguistic evolution.  

Syrah, believed to have originated in the Persian city of Shiraz (yes, the plot thickens), was brought to France by crusaders in the Middle Ages. Over time, the grape found a new home in the Rhône Valley, where it became known as Syrah. Meanwhile, in its birthplace of Shiraz, Australia adopted the grape and gave it a name that honoured its heritage. 

So why, you might ask, do we choose to dance to the rhythm of Syrah, when Shiraz often steals the spotlight? The answer lies in our pursuit of romance, and our makers' desire to do things a little differently, like producing wines that are reflective of regionality, heritage, and technique.

In the cool-climate embrace of the Yarra Valley, Syrah finds its true voice in the whispers of rolling hills, ancient soils, and the gentle beat of the sun. If it sounds romantic, that's because it is. Innocent Bystander Syrah is more perfumed, smooth and sophisticated than a full-on fruit bomb. More earthy white pepper than hardcore spice. Generous in fruit and oak, that's just as enjoyable in a restaurant as it is on the couch.

Que Syrah, Syrah.

Shop Innocent Bystander Syrah

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