Alongside the varietals that German winemakers are known for, grow a handful of exotic French imports. Whilst their success has been varied, Sauvignon Blanc, Auxerrois, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grow all over the South of the country.
Syrah is however still in its infancy and, believe it or not, wines from this traditional Rhône Valley grape grown in the mild summers and cold winters of Germany is starting to look like a success story.
Of course, only a handful of winemakers have experimented with the varietal which is commonly associated with only the warmest production regions. Naturally Germany’s warmest region Baden is at the forefront of Syrah production and yet the Pfalz, Rheinhessen and a few other parts have wines to offer as well.
Grown on about 50 hectares, Syrah barely represents the German wine scene at all and yet many critics suggest that it is the most exciting import since the introduction of the Pinot grapes many decades ago. Introduced in the late 1990s to German viticulture, Syrah thrives in the warm summers of the Markgräflerland and Kaiserstuhl, some of Baden’s southernmost regions. With more sun hours here than anywhere else in Germany, the region is already linked to some of the nation’s best Pinot Noirs.
Perhaps though it was the Pfalz that really brought German Syrah to light: the pioneer Markus Schneider with his very un-German attitude to winemaking was the producer whose Syrah first hit the shelves of normal wine stores and larger supermarkets.
Only a handful of vintners even produce the stuff. I’ve compiled a list of some of the wines that I think are worth mentioning although, due to their fairly rare appearance in retail, I haven’t tried all that many myself. I have noticed a tendency to imitate the wines of Rhône rather than the big and commonly overpowering and rather dull wines from Australia and South Africa – I guess that the climatic conditions dictate this somewhat but the varietal works particularly well with the Baden and Württemberg terroirs.
Getting hold of these wines
Whereas getting hold of German wine is rather difficult outside of Germany, getting hold of German Syrah is even more difficult. Due to the extremely small amounts made, a lot of wineries don’t even release the wines for general sale in Germany. The ones listed above though are all available for sale though. If you live outside of Germany, I’m more than happy to assist you in getting hold of a bottle or two, just get in touch and I’ll see what I can do.