Durif

Origin: A cross between famous variety Syrah and the French obscure variety Peloursin. Created by botanist Francois Durif in the end of the 19th century in Montpellier in southern France

Grown: Australia (Rutherglen), USA (California), Argentina, Mexico, France and Israel
In California it is often known under the name Petite Sirah, but the name Petite Sirah does not technically describe one grape variety, but rather a field blend that is allowed to contain both traditional Syrah and Peloursin (Durif does generally make out the majority in this field blend, ergo the confusion)

Climate: Warm to hot

Viticulture: Late ripening, small berries with thin skin (making it susceptible to many mildew deceases). Tends to get a lot of second croppers (smaller bunches further along the spurs). These must be removed since they otherwise will be unripe at harvest, and might ruin the flavour of the wine (always a problem with grape vines, but more pronounced with Durif)

Vinification: Needs oak to tame the tannins, the use of the barrels and origin will vary widely

Regional names to look for on label:

  • Lodi (California)
  • Rutherglen (Australia)

General Personality:

  • Colour: Very deep, intense inky colour, almost impossible to see through. High in anthocyanin
  • Aromas: Plum, blueberry, black pepper, herbal tea, dark chocolate, liquorice. Oak tends to enhance the smoky character of the wine
  • Taste and Texture: High alcohol and rich in tannins, full-bodied with a rich fruit driven structure, the acidity can sometimes be a bit low
  • Conclusion: Here the philosophy “Go Big or Go Home” applies. Durif is not for the faint of heart, it is a figurative punch-in-the-face. Not many will enjoy it on its own but can be a real treat for the tough ones out there. This is a variety for the Nebbiolo, Aglianico and Tannat drinkers out there
  • Future: When the acidity is low (hot climates) the wines cannot age without loosing all structure, but in more balanced climates (where the acidity is maintained) it can easily age 20 years in the bottle. Big variation though between regions and vintages

Food pairings:

  • General: A wine that demands protein and fat! Avoid too salty or spicy dishes, or anything with a noticeable acidity. If you have ever wondered why people say that you should not drink red wine with fish, try Durif with some salmon and a simple lemon wedge, and you will understand why
  • Obvious pairing: Meat(free)loaf with Gravy
    This Simple Loaf is made with mushrooms, lentils and walnuts and is rich, savoury and delicious. When you have a tannic rich wine like Durif, you need something rich to balance it with. This meatloaf is just as flavourful as you would expect any old-fashioned meatloaf to be, and with the umami rich gravy, you will be in heaven, and happy to pair it with any Durif, no matter origin or age
  • On the wild side: Mac and Cheese with Rice Paper Bacon
    Who does not love Mac and Cheese?! Please tell me, so I can prove you wrong! This is just One Of The Recipes I would treat you to, to prove my point. In this one, cheese is replaced with potatoes (I know that sounds terrible but tasting it, you would never know) and nutritional yeast (which gives it that cheese flavour we want). Severed with smoked paprika and Rice Paper Bacon (again, do not knock it until you have tried it), it is a perfect match to the smoky side of Durif. Especially if you have an example that have spent time on new American oak