Your Guide to Drinking Durif & Why You Need More of It!

DurifLast night, Pinelli Estate in the Swan Valley held an event especially dedicated to the red wine grape, Durif. A lot of people are probably not familiar with the delicious vino that Durif turns into. So I thought it was about time I put together some info on this grape variety for you so that when you next come across a bottle of Durif you will know what it is, and you probably won’t be able to walk past it without grabbing a taste of it

Pinelli Estate was one of the pioneers in the Swan Valley to grow Durif, so if you’re after more information on the variety or want to try a good one, then I suggest you head to their cellar door in Caversham ASAP.

What is Durif?

Durif is a red grape variety which has also been called Petite Sirah or Petite Syrah. It’s actually a bit of a confusing matter as not all Petite Sirah and Petite Syrah historically has in fact been Durif. I’d recommend having a read of the Durif Wikipedia page to get a more info on this topic.

It originates from the Rhone Valley in France and is grown in the USA, Australia and Israel. Plus in a few other countries on a smaller scale like in Chile and Brazil.

Durif is the son of Shiraz/Syrah (yes these 2 words describe the same grape) and a rare black grape called Peloursin which originates from the South West of France. It was French botanist François Durif who came across the cross-pollination of these 2 vines and a few years later it was identified and named after Doctor Durif.

What is Durif wine like?

The dominant flavours in Durif according to Wine Folly’s Essential Guide to Wine book are; plum, blueberries, dark chocolate, black pepper and black tea. It’s full-bodied, robust, tannic and high in alcohol (typically around 14-15% abv).

In cool climate regions, there’ll be a lot of black cherry and plum flavours, while warmer climate Durif’s will lean more towards the blackberry and prune flavours.

Durif produces a dark, sometimes opaque red wine which is high in tannins and because of its deepness, it actually has 2-3 times more anthocyanin ( aka antioxidants) in it than lighter red wines. So yes, if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, then Durif is a must in any healthy diet!

Durif - Petite Sirah - Wine Folly Essential Guide to Wine

Is Durif blended with other grapes?

Yes, it is! Last night, Daniel Pinelli said that his first experiment with Durif was a blend of Shiraz and Durif (the Durif was a very small component). In California, it is also sometimes blended into Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel to add further body to the desired wine.

How do you pronounce Durif?

I think for a lot of the not so well-known grapes, a lot of people are put off asking or ordering them because they’re afraid they’ll sound silly. Don’t! Durif is definitely worth ordering, even if you think you sound silly saying it. However, here’s some help… Duh-rhif

What food pairs best with Durif?

Last night I enjoyed a glass of Pinelli’s 2016 Durif (insanely good, and I heard through the grapevine that soon Pinelli will be releasing approximately 300 special edition magnums to help celebrate Dominic Pinelli being award the Swan Valley Icon award at the 2017 Swan Valley Wine Show) with ‘beef cheeks chasseur’ (bacon, mushroom, carrot, onion sauce) with grain mustard mash potato – a totally winning combination!

Durif will also go well with:

  • Braised meats
  • BBQ food
  • Casseroles and stews
  • Meaty pasta dishes
  • Roast beef
  • Full flavoured mature cheeses such as blue and goats cheeses

How long can you cellar Durif for?

After chatting to winemaker, Daniel Pinelli, last night who has been growing Durif for about 10 years now – he suggested that Durif ages typically for about 5-10 years. However, when made in stellar vintages, it can last 20 years or more.

If you’re keen to cellar some Durif, then it would be best to chat to the winery or winemaker of the specific Durif to find out what it’s length of life will be.

Local Wineries producing Durif:

There are a number of wineries throughout Aussie producing Durif, some Durif producing wineries in  Western Australia are:

Over east, Rutherglen in Victoria is well-known for their Durif’s alongside the Riverina and Riverland regions. For more details on Durif in Australia, I’d recommend heading over to Vinodiversity by Darby Higgs.

Pinelli Estate Durif

At the Pinelli event, I wrote some brief notes from the vertical tasting we did. 2012, 14 and 16 all stood out for me in particular:

2016 Durif
Deep dark garnet
Smokey, leafy, dark berries
Tannin, long finish, curvy, dark chocolate

2015 Durif
Garnet
Vanilla spiced blackberries
More closed than the 16

2014 Durif
Deeper garnet, velvet plum
Earthy, intoxicating, black fruits
Elegant tannins, blackberries, black boy plums, soft yet full of flavour ?

2013 Durif
Garnet
Mushroom, truffle, meaty yet fruity, savoury
Juicy, black cherries and plums, apparent tannins, chewy tannins

2012 Durif
Deep red garnet
Earthy/savoury, intoxicating, plummy
Smooth, plum, delicious!

Do you have a favourite Durif? If so please let us know below!

Grab a glass of wine and let me know what you think...