Syrah variety is sourced in the vineyards of Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, placed at the North Rhone valley. It is a vigorous variety, has mid budding, and a short ripening period between véraison and harvest, in addition to a short time span of optimum maturation. It needs special cares during the pruning to protect it from spring gusts. Syrah is very likely to suffer chlorosis so it is especially suitable for soils with high content of active lime. Syrah variety is susceptible to mites and botrytis cinerea, particularly before the harvest. It is also vulnerable to a disease with no known cause, called “Syrah decline”, where leaves turn red, the crafting point is swells and cracks, and the vine dies suddenly. Syrah berries are small and tend to try quickly once ripened.
Up to the end of the 20th century, Syrah variety was cultivated mainly in the Rhone valley and Australia, but with the increase of Australian wine exports, a vogue for Rhone style wines and a certain degree of boredom with the Bordeaux wines, Syrah started wining fans and its growing spread. Syrah wines are much smoother and the fruit flavour is much present than in Cabernet Sauvignon wines, especially when blended with Garnacha and Monastrell grapes. The taste and aroma extend to leather, liquorice, black pepper, black fruit and sometimes even tar and burned rubber if they have not ripened completely. To the contrary, if harvests are over-ripened the typical classic tastes of black chocolate, port and sugared plums appears
Syrah is the third dark-skinned variety most grown in France, after Merlot and Garnacha. It is cultivated along the French South and Southeast, being Languedoc-Roussillon the region with highest Syrah production.
At the North Rhone, Syrah is doubtlessly the queen dark-skinned grape variety and the only one authorised to produce single-variety wines. The long-ageing and magnificent rich and full-bodied red wines grown on granite soil at the AOC Hermitage present the most male attitude of this variety. Crozes-Hermitage is almost the North limit to grow Syrah, here Viogner is usually fermented with Syrah yielding pure fresh wines, with a light and feminine touch (with the exception of full-bodied Guigal wines)
In Spain, Syrah is grown in Castilla La Mancha, Aragón, Cataluña, Murcia and Extremadura. Carlos Falcó, owner of Marqués de Griñón winery is one of the first Spanish supporters producing a Syrah wine known as Dominio de Valdepusa (Toledo). Abadía Retuerta, Castell d'Encus (Thalarn) and Finca Sandoval are other excellent examples of Syrah wines. Here in Spain, Syrah wines tend to be sweeter and impressive than French ones.