Vine varieties: Syrah

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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California’s rhône rangers have generated growing interest in this French variety. Fleshy, clean, and plum-scented, perhaps more reminiscent of Australian Shiraz than the more microbiologically-laden examples of the Rhône Valley. In fact California’s surge in Syrah interest can trace its inception to a 1973 importation of cuttings from Australia. California Syrahs achieved remarkable success in only a few years with acreage growing from 2,200 in 1995 to 19,000 acres in 2013. The Sierra Foothills, the warmer canyons of eastern Santa Barbara County, the Hopland area of Mendocino, and Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley have particularly distinguished themselves. Some intrepid Californians are also growing Syrah and other Rhône varieties in exceedingly cool coastal regions such as the ‘true’ Sonoma Coast and the Sta. Rita Hills AVA of Santa Barbara County, with impressive results in a more focused, structured style than warm-region Syrahs.