Grown in the north of the Rhône Valley, it is regarded as a robust variety whose best expression comes when planted in fairly deep soil. Close pruning is practised on the vines in the valley. Syrah is always trained on wire or, on steep slopes where trellising is out of the question, grown on stakes. Compared to other varieties, it is somewhat high maintenance!
A superior grape
Classified as a ‘recommended’ variety – as opposed to a ‘secondary’ variety – Syrah is one of the obligatory base grapes for producing Southern Rhône appellation wines, as a single variety in Northern crus or blended in Southern crus.
Wines containing Syrah are typically deep in colour and well balanced. In Gigondas, it is commonly combined with Grenache as Syrah grapes promote stability in the wine. Grenache tends to swing between under- and over-productive years. “Syrah is constant, a variety you can depend on. It grows rapidly and demands a lot of work, but it has a consistency that promises excellent yields each year,” explains Nicolas, Estates Manager at Maison Gabriel Meffre. Syrah is a consistently high performer and a foundation the winegrower can rely on. On the other hand, Syrah is prone to decline which explains why there are no longer any old Syrah vines in France, contrary to Grenache. All in all, it’s a grape that deserves our full attention!
A sprawling presence at vineyards farmed by Maison Gabriel Meffre
Today, Syrah accounts for 39% of vineyards farmed in Gigondas, rising to 50% in Vacqueyras and Plan de Dieu.
Consequently, it makes up a significant share in bottles from Domaine de Longue Toque:
- The Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu is composed of 50% Syrah and 50% Grenache, resulting in a concentrated, generous and spicy wine.
- The Gigondas is made up of 65% Grenache, 26% Syrah and 9% Mourvèdre, a blend that offers a silky-smooth, elegant wine.
- Our Vacqueyras meanwhile is 55% Grenache versus 45% Syrah which produces a wine that is firm and fine in equal measure.
Only the iconic cuvée “Hommage à Gabriel Meffre” is a blend of mostly Grenache from our oldest vineyards.
The flavours most commonly associated with Syrah are violet, red fruits and spices. These tend to vary depending on the region where the grapes are grown.
“Our parcels in Montmirail and Les Dentelles have a very distinct identity. Both these wines are easily recognisable. In Montmirail, with its southern typicity, Syrah becomes generous, opulent, with intense, stewed notes that reminds one of blackberry jam. Syrah from the higher-altitude Dentelles, however, is more similar to Syrah grown in the northern Rhône: more concentrated, taut, livelier, but extremely rich nonetheless!” describes Nicolas Sperenza.
Syrah is an iconic variety that has its own very specific characteristics. It is no exaggeration to say that Syrah is keeping our winegrowing expertise very much alive! To learn more about the grape varieties we work with, we recommend you read our article on Grenache.