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Syrah

The Syrah grape is a noble French variety capable of producing elegant, spiced and complex red wines, which are dense and full of personality. Its origins are shrouded in mystery. According to the most reliable hypothesis, it originated in the ancient Persian city of Shiraz, while others believe it comes from the territory of Syracuse, or even Egypt. What is certain is that, for centuries, it has been associated with the Rhone Valley in France, its chosen home, where interpretations of international fame are produced. Today, it has spread with great success throughout the world, from California to Australia, and has reached peaks of quality in very different areas, such as inland Sicily, in the Maremma hills or in the terroir of Cortona, in the Tuscany region. Here it displays an almost wild expressiveness, with deep notes of black fruit and intense spices, a magnificent personality and a structured tannic texture.

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The Syrah grape is a noble French variety capable of producing elegant, spiced and complex red wines, which are dense and full of personality. Its origins are shrouded in mystery. According to the most reliable hypothesis, it originated in the ancient Persian city of Shiraz, while others believe it comes from the territory of Syracuse, or even Egypt. What is certain is that, for centuries, it has been associated with the Rhone Valley in France, its chosen home, where interpretations of international fame are produced. Today, it has spread with great success throughout the world, from California to Australia, and has reached peaks of quality in very different areas, such as inland Sicily, in the Maremma hills or in the terroir of Cortona, in the Tuscany region. Here it displays an almost wild expressiveness, with deep notes of black fruit and intense spices, a magnificent personality and a structured tannic texture.

Ancient Legends of Syrah, from Ancient Persia, Sicily and France

This type of grape is often defined as indigenous to France, due to the wonderful and intense expressions produced in the Rhone Valley. However, it was most likely imported from Persia, in particular from the city of Shiraz, or indeed from Sicily. According to legend, it was first brought to France, to the small village of Tain on the banks of the Rhone, by the nobleman Gaspard de Steinberg on his return from the Crusades in 1224. From here it spread throughout the territory.

The birthplace of the wine is believed by many to be the Persian city of Shiraz, now in Iran, located at an altitude of about 1,500 metres on the slopes of the Zagros mountains, where the first fermented musts were probably produced in the mists of time. The discovery of 7,000-year-old terracotta jars near the Persian city suggests that red Syrah was the first wine to be produced in the history of mankind.

Another idea, bordering between myth and historical reality, traces the origin of this variety of red grape to the city of Syracuse in Sicily, based on an etymology probably of Greek origin. According to this hypothesis, the vine, which originated in Sicily, spread to France and then gradually disappeared on the island, only to be reintroduced in the 19th century, at the same time as it spread throughout the Italian peninsula.

According to another legend, the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus imported this grape from Egypt to be cultivated in Gaul. During the long journey, his legions stopped in Sicily, near an area with the mythological name of Arethusa, and began planting the first vine shoots. From the combination of the name of the grape and that of Arethusa, the name Syracuse was born. The name Arethusa has survived to this day and identifies a body of water on the island of Ortigia, which flows into the city's Porto Grande.


The Most Prestigious Production Areas in the World

The grape variety is widespread throughout the world, with extensive cultivation in California, South Africa and Australia, where it is identified by different names, such as Shiraz. The productivity of the plant and the generosity of its intense, spiced aromatic profile has contributed to the production of red wines in almost every corner of the globe. In Australia, where the grape variety was imported in 1837 by James Busby, it is vinified on its own with great results, or in combination with Cabernet Sauvignon.

The elective home of this variety, however, is the Rhone Valley, where the first and most prestigious expressions were born, recognized in legendary denominations such as, for example, Hermitage AOC. It is here that powerful, elegant, robust and long-lived red wines are born, with their characteristic spiced notes of liquorice and black pepper. In the northern Rhône Valley, this grape is vinified on its own, while in the south it is blended with other local varieties, as is the case with Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge.

Several high quality Syrah IGT wines are now also produced in Italy, particularly in the regions of Sicily and Tuscany. Sicilian wines of this type are usually intense, warm and enveloping, with moderate freshness, and whose spiced notes are softened by the exuberant aromas of ripe fruit and dried flowers, due to the power of the sun and the generosity of the soil.

The Maremma produces, through long macerations and ageing in wood, robust and structured versions of great longevity, with a spiciness based on Mediterranean tones of underbrush, roots and wild herbs. In the area of the town of Cortona, located in the heart of the Chiana Valley, in the province of Arezzo, a top-level Syrah DOC wine is produced, which has become famous worldwide. One of the main contributors to this success is undoubtedly the winemaker Stefano Amerighi, who was among the first to invest in the potential of the vine and the Tuscan territory.


The Organoleptic Profile and Pairing Suggestions

Wherever in the world it is produced, Syrah wine is always characterised by a spiced and intense aromatic profile, reminiscent of black pepper. Other common and recurring scents are those of liquorice, carob, black fruit, humus, coffee, smoked wood, roots, brine and green olives. The colour is usually intense, deep and compact, with shades ranging from purplish to deep ruby and garnet. The taste is full-bodied, austere and concentrated, varying in intensity depending on the style of vinification.

Because of its deep and spiced soul, Syrah pairs well with very tasty grilled meats, possibly seasoned with aromatic herbs and barbecue sauce, with mushroom or truffle dishes and with important roasts. Depending on the different expressions of the wine, it also goes perfectly with savoury or smoked meats, rare steaks, game and herb cheeses. Some producers tend to recommend specific dishes such as first courses with spicy sauce, pappardelle with venison or wild boar ragout, jugged hare or even bitter chocolate for the more intense and prestigious versions.

On the Callmewine online wine shop, you can find a wide selection of this type for sale online. Discover Syrah wines at particularly competitive prices and buy the best bottles on offer to fit your specific needs and occasions.