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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for July 2000


Is Syrah on a Roll?



Chris Hammell (left) and Fred Holloway

Cambria Vineyard
Manager Chris Hammell (left) and
Winemaker Fred Holloway

Australian Shiraz (Syrah) is the next big thing in red wine. It is only a matter of time before it develops a large following in the U.S.

While we haven't had a California Syrah yet that knocked our socks off, the grape is coming on strong there, too.

Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher
The Wall Street Journal Guide to Wine


The Rest of the Story

So how is Syrah doing compared to the competition? To get an idea, we matched 16 Australian and California Syrah (Shiraz) versus other Golden State reds of the same price. Here are the winners, listed in order of increasing price. The "winning margin" is the winner's rating minus the loser's rating on a zero to 100 scale.

Price Winning Margin Winner The Winning Wine
    Syrah Other  
$6 9 x   Sutter Home Shiraz, California '98
$9 4 x   Ironstone Vineyards Shiraz, Cal., '97
$9 6   x Buena Vista Zinfandel, Cal., '97
$10 6   x Chateau Julien Merlot, Monterey, '97
$12 25   x Shenandoah Vnyds., Cabernet Sauvignon, Amador County, '96
$13 6 x   Hope Estate Shiraz Hunter Valley Australia (Winesellers)
$16 6   x Flora Springs Sangiovese, Napa Valley, '98
$18 21   x Rosenblum Dry Creek Zinfandel, Rockpile Vineyard, '96
$18 10   x Field Stone Sangiovese, North Coast, '97
$18 24 x   Wolf Blass Presidents Selection Shiraz, Australia, '96
$19 9   x Concannon Assemblage Red Livermore Valley, '95
$22 1 x   Cambria Syrah, Santa Maria Valley, Tepusquet Vineyard, '97 (pictured)
$22 6 x   Cambria Syrah (another bottle of the above wine in a different matchup)
$30 2 x   Rosemount Mountain Blue Shiraz Australia, '96
$32 5   x Peju Province Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, '96
$42 13   x Gary Farrell Encounter, Pine Mountain, Sonoma County, '96


Syrah-Shiraz won seven matches while other California varietals won nine.

Half of the Australian Shiraz entries won their matches, while only 40% of the California Shiraz-Syrah won.



Syrah is nicely competitive; Australia is a bit ahead of California. It'll be fun to try the new releases the next few years. In fact, I have a Shiraz coming from the emerging Carramar Estate Australian winery for the next tasting. Stay tuned.


This page created July 2000