Author: Kristian Kielmayer , Ágnes Herczeg
An extremely trendy black grape, a complex, high-quality red wine variety, which is shrouded in many stories and legends. Somewhat romantically, many considered its origin to be in Shiraz, in the former Persian Empire, in what is now Iran. However, modern studies have revealed that its parents are the varieties Mondeuse Blanche and Dureza. Thus, a spontaneous natural crossing of varieties of French origin, which are also found in the Rhône Valley. Likewise, it is one of today’s best-known and important varieties, especially in the northern Rhône Valley.
It is a high-yielding variety which ripens quite early after a relatively short growing season. Its berries can overripen quickly, making choice of optimal harvest time both difficult and critical. It is characterised by long, dense clusters with thick-skinned, dark purple-blue berries. Its grapes contain rotundone, which results in its characteristic pronounced spicy notes, mainly of black pepper.
It is a truly international variety, which is, of course, most common in its homeland, France, followed by Australia, where it is known as Shiraz. It is also found in Spain and in practically every New World wine region. It can make great wines on its own; however, it also works well in blends, such as the classic Rhône Valley blend, often shortened to GSM as it is made primarily from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, while in Australia it is also typically found in the classic Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon pairing. It is cultivated on 280 hectares in Hungary, with most found in the Eger, followed by the Villány wine district. It is difficult to define the Hungarian style of Syrah. Although some pretty great wines are being made, it is too early to say much about their nature, as their regions of origin are so fragmented. However, there are exciting experiments with the variety in Szekszárd, Eger, Villány and the Balaton, as well as in Sopron.
As with all varieties, the terroir, soil and climatic conditions are extremely important in shaping the wines. In general, wines made from Syrah are deep in colour, with medium-high alcohol and pronounced, powerful tannins. Wines from cool climates are characterised by redcurrant, violet, blackberry, green olive, mint and pepper, while warm climate versions are dominated by notes of blackcurrant, blackberry, liquorice, mint leaf, smoke and black pepper. It is a matter of style whether the wine is light, lively, spicy and peppery or rather ripe, dense and powerful.
Syrah grape bunch and leaf
Syrah is a particularly popular and widespread grape variety around the world. In some countries, it is known as Shiraz. It produces wines in many styles, but in Hungary it is generally produced as a red wine, especially in high-quality, medium-bodied, high tannin styles. It is especially popular in blends, to which it contributes black pepper and black berry fruit notes as well as firm tannins. As a red wine, it has an intense, deep colour and boasts flavours of blackcurrant, blackberry as well as its characteristic spicy black pepper and mint notes. Syrah generally pairs very well with food and is a favourite of wine lovers all year round. It goes especially well with grilled meats and steak, roast game, especially venison and wild boar, stews, roast meat and meatloaf. Choose young vintages of lighter Syrahs to best enjoy their fruity style, while the best Syrahs can benefit from 10-15 years of bottle ageing before drinking. Always store in a cool place, at a constant temperature, away from direct sunlight and heat, to best preserve its aromas. Serve just below room temperature, rosés at 8-10°C, light Syrahs at 14-16°C and aged, full-bodied wines at 16-18°C from a large tulip-shaped red wine glass. Ingredients that best match the flavour and texture of wines made from Syrah include root vegetables, beetroot, tomatoes, mature hard cheeses, smoked cheeses and offal as well as pork, beef, veal, venison, wild boar and mouflon dishes.