Wine grapes: Syrah (or shiraz)
From Syracuse in Sicily? Perhaps, since the name "syrac" is also a synonym for this grape. From Shiraz in Iran? Legend supports this possibility, recounting that the grape was brought back from the Persian Gulf in the 13th century during the Crusades by the Chevalier de Sterimberg who retired to the hillside of the Hermitage. In any case, this is the origin of another synonym for the syrah grape: Hermitage rouge. A final hypothesis: the grape was introduced into France in the 3rd century when the Emperor Probus authorized the planting of vines in Gaul. But that still wouldn't rule out a Sicilian or Persian origin! Whatever the true story, no one denies that syrah has southern origins, borne out by its extraordinary development in all the warm wine-producing regions of the world.
The syrah's orbicular (round) leaf is wavy and corrugated. Its five lobes are moderately marked. The underside of the limb is downy. The bunches of grapes are cylindrical and fairly long, sometimes winged. Sometimes loose, sometimes compact, they are made up of ovoid grapes that are bluish-black, usually covered by abundant bloom.
Syrah is the principal grape of the northern Rhône region, while expanding into other regions of southern France. It likes the poor soil and hot climate.
To it we owe the great Côtes du Rhône such as Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage as well as the wines of Languedoc Roussillon. Syrah (or shiraz as it's known in other countries) has adapted ideally to California, Australia and South Africa.
Wine and aromas
Raspberry, pepper, licorice, violet
Its color is always purplish-red tending towards inky. It has a powerful nose marked by blackberries and spice. Pepper, coriander and cloves, even violets, vie for prominence. All its characteristics are present in the tasting. The wine is tannic, often big and full-bodied.
It pairs with any red meat, especially the most full-flavored. Its spicy notes are a perfect match for game and strong cheeses.
Châteauneuf du Pape, Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, Côteaux du Languedoc, Côtes de Provence, etc