You say Syrah, I say Shiraz...are we talking the same language? Words by Yvonne Lorkin.
Fact: syrah and shiraz are the same grape. In New Zealand we call it syrah, as do the French; however in Australia, it's a shiraz.
While the grape is the same, the two flavours of syrah and shiraz are wildly different. New Zealand syrah has elegant floral and pepper aromas, a savoury cherry-edged flavour and leathery tannins, while Australian shiraz tends to be sweeter, blackcurrant-stacked, plump and often has higher alcohol levels. Syrah's distinct peppery character is due to a chemical called rotundone, and rotundone (surprise surprise) is also present in peppercorns.
While syrah is grown pretty much nationwide, the real powerhouse examples mostly come from Hawke's Bay and Waiheke Island. Syrah is a winning winter wine, because it pairs perfectly with venison, lamb and sneaky slivers of delicious salty prosecco.
Good examples of each are New Zealand's Church Road McDonald Series Syrah, RRP $28.99, 750ml; to get a true comparison, taste alongside the Australian Young & Co's The Jam McLaren Vale Shiraz, RRP $21.99, 750ml.