The most important grape of the Northern Rhone Valley, Syrah is quickly becoming one of the most noted grapes planted in America. America's best bottlings hail from the Central Coast, Santa Barbara, Sonoma County and Napa Valley. Syrah displays a spicy blend of black pepper and raspberries, with dark fruit undertones; full-bodied with smoke, tar and tannins. It is made into a few magnificent varietally labeled wines, but is also often the base grape for Rhone-style blends. There are those who believe that the Napa Valley should be planted mostly to Syrah, for it thrives in warm growing regions. In Australia, where it is the most-planted red variety, and in South Africa, the grape is known as Shiraz. While viticulturally identical with Syrah, Shiraz grown in Australia is typically sweeter and riper, with more chocolately notes than pepper and spices.
This is yet another dynamic region, with new vineyards appearing every year. At only an hour's drive from Melbourne it is the second coolest region in the state, and quite rainy. The area is known for its rolling hills and vineyards featuring a variety of grapes including Australian Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir.