The Syrah grape buds late and ripens early in the year, requiring a short growing season. It does well in shallow, rocky soils. Most wine made from the Syrah grape is full bodied on its own and is not given too much new oak.
California Syrah is made in a number of styles. Climate is the most important factor; cooler regions, such as the Santa Ynez Valley, typically make more restrained styles of the grape. On the other hand, Paso Robles makes Syrah wines known for their spicy, fruit forward flavors. The Syrah grape is one of Cabernet Sauvignon’s most serious competitors in the Golden State.
In Europe, Syrah’s home is the Northern Rhone Valley of France. The grape has been revived in the Rhone during the past few decades. These wines are now being marketed much more effectively; things were not as good in the 1960s and 1970s. Syrah is sometimes called Marsanne Noir in the region.