Shiraz or Syrah?
Shiraz, a red grape variety, has the same genetic make-up as the Syrah, however their individual histories differ. James Busby, a Scotsman known as the ‘Father of Australian Viticulture’, brought the Syrah grapevine back to Australia from Europe in 1933. The grape now known to us as Shiraz was then called Scyras (among other synonyms). Today Shiraz is widely distributed in Australia and South Africa. Red wines made from Shiraz grapes are different from wine made from the French Syrah, even though they are both made up of the same genetic material. Wine from Australian Shiraz grapes is sweetish with a light chocolate note, e.g. the renowned Penfolds Grange wine. The grape known in Australia and South Africa as Shiraz is called Syrah in California. It was not until 1936 that the Syrah grape was introduced to California, and it is assumed that that Shiraz had already been crossed with other Californian grape varieties toward the end of the 19th Century. Genetic tests at the University of California sugest that the Californian Shiraz, i.e. the Syrah, is a hybrid of the white Mondeuse Blanche and the red Dureza grape varieties.