One of the great red grape varieties, Syrah – or Shiraz – has found huge success far from its Rhône homeland. Steven Spurrier gives his thoughts on New World Syrah beyond the Rhône, while our regional experts recommend the best wines to seek out...

Syrah stands next to Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir as one of the world’s three greatest red grape varieties. Filling out the top 10 for me would be Merlot, Nebbiolo, Grenache, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Carignan.

Like Cabernet Sauvignon, which hails from the Médoc, and Pinot Noir whose home is the Côte d’Or, Syrah’s foundations are in France – more specifically in the northern Rhône which, on the 45th parallel, offers a near-perfect northern climate for the vine, the granite-based soil allowing Syrah to produce wines of striking intensity of bouquet and flavour.

Syrah is both a distinctive and distinguished grape variety and its origin (or originality) should always enhance its natural fruits and tannins. While Pinot Noir is more fascinating and Cabernet Sauvignon more predictable, Syrah is more reliable in the best way: in its many guises it almost never lets you down, and New World Syrah has a natural weight which seldom tips into over-extraction as the ripeness is already there.

I was once asked to choose one single red variety, alone or dominant in blends, for the remainder of my drinking life. I remember opting for Sangiovese. After writing this and looking at the wines our seven regional experts have recommended over the following pages, I think I should have chosen Syrah…

See the top New World Syrahs chosen by our experts:

Keep checking back on Decanter.com for more New World Syrah recommendations …

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