What is it?
Put simply, Durif is Shiraz’s big bad brother. Named after the French botanist who produced it by crossing Syrah (Shiraz) with the rare southern French Peloursin, this late-ripening variety is a well-kept secret but the story is getting out. And if you love your big reds, it’s a story you need to know.
Where does it grow?
Used sparingly in the red blends of France’s southern Rhône valley, where it adds colour and structure, it has found a natural home in Australia. First planted in Rutherglen by Morris Wines in 1908, it has since become synonymous with the region. Outside Victoria, wineries in the New South Wales Riverina have also had great success, with the region’s Durifs regular winners with wine show judges and critics.
What is it like to drink?
Typically even bigger in structure than Shiraz, it is dense, mouth staining, often high in alcohol, and unashamedly full bodied. Aromas and flavours of blackberry, dark cherry, plum, warm spices, liquorice and sarsaparilla are held in place by a blanket of firm tannins. As a young wine, it demands decanting and it can easily cellar for a decade or more.
Durif has something of a cult following amongst lovers of rich and fruit forward reds. If that sounds like you and you’re ready to dabble outside traditional red varieties, such as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, then Durif is a very safe first step. And with the cold nights drawing in, now is the perfect time – it might even become your go-to winter red.
- Laurence Ryan