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Are Syrah, Shiraz and Sirah the same grape variety? Well, yes and no. Made famous in the Rhone region of France, Syrah is grown throughout the world and is capable of producing powerful red wines. A relative newcomer to California, Syrah is becoming more and more popular as both a varietal and blending wine. Michael David’s 6th Sense, from the Lodi region of California, is a good example: full of ripe dark fruit flavors and just a little pepper. Shiraz, on the other hand, is arguably just another name for Syrah. Known as Syrah throughout most of the world, in Australia the variety is called Shiraz. A major player on the Australian wine scene, Shiraz wines have become so popular that Syrah producers in other parts of the world have begun renaming their wines Shiraz. Mollydooker’s Boxer from McLaren Vale, Australia is a wonderful example, with complex and concentrated black fruit, unique spiciness and great acidity. Then there is Sirah, actually Petite Sirah, that is something else altogether. A hybrid of Syrah and a variety called Peloursin, Petite Sirah produces dark, inky wines with lots of texture and mouth feel. Starry Night’s Petite Sirah from Lodi is full of plum and black cherry, also with a bit of pepper spice.

 

Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia

Red Varietal - Shiraz

Notes: Warm blackberries and blueberries with nuances of menthol, some spice cake, anise and bacon fat. Concentrated, big, rich and ripe, it offers a very spicy palate with some licorice and cumin seed coming through, supported by a medium level of velvety tannins, lively acidity and finishing very long.

A Dry Red - Cost: $$$ out of $$$$$

 

Michael David 6th Sense Syrah from Lodi

Red Varietal - Syrah blended with a bit of Petite Sirah

Notes: Striking aromas of ripe, dark fruits radiate from the glass in an earthy, smoky tobacco context. Full, rich fruit flavors of dark berries, whole plum and blackcurrant fill the palate and hold their flavors through a long and smooth peppery finish.

A Dry Red – Cost: $$ out of $$$$$

 

Starry Night Wines Petite Sirah from Lodi

Red Varietal - Petite Sirah

Notes: From a small vineyard on the east side of the Lodi appellation. The very limited crop from this vineyard results in deep, rich fruit-driven flavors of ripe plums and black cherries with hints of anise and white pepper.

A Soft Red – Cost: $$ out of $$$$$

 

Local oenophile David Dickson has been a wine educator for nearly 30 years. He welcomes questions and suggestions for this column at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Visit his website at winetimenewsletter.com to learn more about enjoying wine.