Syrah Growing Regions

Syrah Growing Regions

In Europe, it is cultivated on a significant number of hectares in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. In America, it is widely cultivated in the United States, Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Australia, in addition to other countries.


The Syrah grape is cultivated in the Rhone Valley and the variety of soils gives rise to wines with diverse characteristics. Hermitage wines are more mineralized and have high levels of tannins, and those from Côte-Rôtie have a more powerful and fragrant fruity flavor. Syrah is the only red grape used in the production of North Rhone wines. In addition, Syrah is often an important component of many wine blends, and can be used to add body, nuance and depth to Grenach-based wines from South Rhone and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

In 1968, there were only a small number of Syrah vineyards established in France, mostly in the traditional wine regions of the north of the Rhone. These wines had not been widely recognized for many years, so their production capacity was not fully exploited. The situation changed in the 1970s, when wine writers re-introduced wines from the north of the Rhone to the public, leading to an increase in vineyard planting. In the eighties and nineties, wine expert Robert M. Parker, Jr. joined the initiative and rated some of the Rhone wines with a score close to 100 points.

Australian shiraz garnered a lot of attention abroad, which caused a sharp increase in its area in France. In 1998, 27,000 hectares of the variety had been planted, and by 1999 the number had skyrocketed to 50,700, making France the country with the most Syrah plantations.

In the past, winegrowers had only planted Syrah in areas north of the Rhone that had never before been dedicated to the vineyard. But in recent years, most of the new French Syrah plantations have been carried out in the much larger vineyards in the south and in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Although the south of the Rhone is not known for producing many wines exclusively from Syrah, there has been a notable increase in the number of blends with this variety. In Languedoc-Roussillon, Syrah is used to reproduce the Grenache blends that are made in the south, and also to create Australian-style wines that are combined with cabernet sauvignon and served as monovarietals.

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A form of decline has been identified in French Syrah vines, characterized by reddening of the foliage in the late summer months, the appearance of deep crevices above the graft on the stem, and the premature death of the vine. This disease was first detected in 1990 in the areas of Gard and Hérault, in the south of France, and has since spread. It is supposed to be the result of an inconsistency between the rootstock and the barb, and not of a viral infection.

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