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2016 Assignment #1 – Shiraz/Syrah blends


Assignment #1 – Shiraz/Syrah blends

To start wine assignments in 2016 we are starting similar to how we started 2015, with Shiraz/Syrah, Australia’s most planted 1, and arguably most known grape varietal. Australia is known for blending Shiraz with other varietals, notably Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia’s most famous Shiraz, the Penfolds Grange has a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in most vintages), and these blends fills in the gaps where a straight shiraz cannot (be it aroma, taste, body, texture etc). In France, where the varietal is known as Syrah, it can be found in blends with Grenache (southern Rhône) and Viognier (northern Rhône). In general, Shiraz/Syrah blends with white varietals, such as Viognier, tend to enhance the aroma of the wine while blends with other red varietals tend to change the body and taste on the palate.


The aim of this assignment is to try and taste what other varieties bring to the table in a Shiraz blend. For this you might even want to have a 100% Shiraz/Syrah tasted side-by-side with your blend to assess what’s added to the experience in a blend. For example you might find the aroma on a Shiraz Viognier blend quite different (enhanced even), compared to a straight Shiraz but on the palate the difference is more subtle. 

Keys descriptions to look for:


  • Does it smell like a Shiraz/Syrah or is there something more?
  • Light-medium bodied or more towards the fuller end of the spectrum?
  • Based on what you expect of Shirazs/Syrahs from the region, is the blend different?
  • What fruit flavours do you taste, and what flavours can you associate with the blended varietal?
  • What do you like in the blend and what do you prefer in a straight Shiraz/Syrah?
  • Is the oak flavour present?


Wine suggestions:

I’ll suggest a few wines fitting the assignment in case you need ideas. Feel free to ignore these and just find something new or something you want to revisit with the assignment in mind.

$20-$40 per bottle

*d’Arenberg The Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier – A good value wine from McLaren Vale showcasing a warm-climate style. Look for aromatics from the Viognier.

*Lark Hill Shiraz Viognier – Similar to the above in terms of what you should be looking for but also a different style of Shiraz coming from the cooler Canberra district.

*Teusner The Independent Shiraz Mataro – Another good value wine but from Barossa Valley region. Look for characteristics on the palate you might not expect from a Barossa Shiraz.

*Henschke Henry’s Seven Shiraz Grenache Viognier – A bit of something extra both on the palate and the nose. See if you can pick them out.

*St Hugo Shiraz Cabernet – A classic Australian blend.

$40+ per bottle

*Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier – Cool-climate from the Canberra region. One of the best (if not the best) SV blends in Australia. 

*Guigal Brune et Blonde – A famous northern Rhône producer known for Syrah Viognier blends.

This assignment goes over two weeks, finishes on: 7th of March 2016

For instructions on how to submit a review and assignment rules, have a read here. Forum discussions for this theme can be found here.  

List of submitted reviews for this assignment:




About The Author
Sammy Lee
A wine enthusiast that wants to bring like folks together.

Notable Replies

  1. @SammyLee So I understand that GSM are a Southern Rhone blend. Where did Shiraz Viognier originate/become famous? Or for that matter Shiraz Cabernet as well?

  2. @petertan Syrah blends (with white varietals) originate from Northern Rhone, most famous for Syrah Viognier blends is the appellation called Côte-Rôtie.

    Shiraz Cabernet is something Australians are famous for, but I’m not sure if we’re the first…

  3. @sammylee Prior to finding out about your Shiraz Viognier fixation I was under the impression that reds were blended with reds and whites with whites. Are there any other red/white blends I’m ignorant of?

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