Zinfandel (also known as Primitivo) is a variety of red grape. The grape is planted in over 10 percent of California vineyards. DNA fingerprinting revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in Puglia (the “heel” of Italy) where it was introduced in the 18th century. The grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century, and became known by variations of the name “Zinfandel”, a name of uncertain origin.
The grapes typically produce a robust red wine, although a semi-sweet rosé (blush-style) wine called White Zinfandel has six times the sales of the red wine in the United States.
Syrah (also known as Shiraz) is a dark-skinned grape variety grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce red wine. DNA profiling in 1999 found Syrah to be the offspring of two obscure grapes from southeastern France, Dureza and Mondeuse blanche. Syrah should not be confused with Petite Sirah, a cross of Syrah with Peloursin dating from 1880.
The name or spelling Shiraz may be an effect of the English language on a French name, there is no evidence that it actually originated in Australia, although it was definitely the Australian usage and the Australian wines that made the use of this name popular.
The style and flavor profile of wines made from Shiraz is influenced by the climate where the grapes are grown with moderate tending to produce medium to full-bodied wines with medium-plus to high levels of tannins and flavors of blackberry, mint and black pepper notes. In hot climates Shiraz is more consistently full-bodied with softer tannin, jammier fruit and spice notes of liquorice, anise and earthy leather. In many regions the acidity and tannin levels of Shiraz allows the wines produced from the grape to have favorable aging potential.
Syrah is used as a varietal and is also blended. Following several years of strong planting, Syrah was estimated in 2004 to be the world’s 7th most grown grape. It can be found throughout the world
At Four Leaves Winery we produce a 50/50 blend of these two popular grapes. Our blend brings out the best of the two – the Zin’s rich color and spice along with the smoothness and fruit notes of the Shiraz. Please come by and give it a try. You may develop a new appreciation for blends.