Syrah, or shiraz as it's known in the New World, is considered to be one of the great noble black grape varieties, because it can produce such deliciously dark, full-bodied and age-worthy wines.
Old world: The Northern Rhône and Southern Rhône in France are the home of syrah in the old world. The Northern appellations of Côte Rôtie (or 'the roasted slope' which gives an indication of how hot this area is) and Hermitage produce some of the most prestigious syrahs, packed with sun-riped fruit flavours and with lots of potential for ageing. Crozes Hermitage offers slightly softer, fruitier reds and Cornas can compete with Hermitage itself, producing deep, black, tannic, powerful syrahs. Southern Rhône is where you'll find the iconic Châteauneuf-du-Pape region, making silky, dark-fruited, soft and spicy wines with lots of elegance. Here syrah is blended with up to 13 other local grape varieties, such as grenache, mourvedre, cinsault and carignan.
New world: Syrah is another red grape that the Australians have made their own, with Australian shiraz being made in a range of styles from lighter, red-fruited, gluggable wines to deep, rich, almost chocolatey full-bodied wines for keeping. Australian winemakers also came up with the innovative and highly successful cabernet-shiraz blend. The warmer regions of New Zealand, such as Hawke's Bay, are also known for their shiraz. Here, as in some other new world regions, the producers have started to name the wines syrah if they are more 'French' in style (dark, savoury fruit) and shiraz to indicate a richer, raspberry-fruited style.