Durif red wine variety in Australia

Durif is famous in Australia for producing robust red wines.  In California is better known as Petite Sirah.

Durif red wine made by the innovative Boy Meets Girl.Durif red wine made by the innovative Boy Meets Girl.

The origins and Identity of Durif

This red wine grape from the Rhone Valley is not highly regarded in its native France. It is named after its breeder who established the variety in the late nineteenth century.

It was introduced into Australia by pioneering Victorian viticulturalist Francois de Castella in 1908.

The variety is planted in California under the name of Petite Sirah where there has been some confusion about the variety. Many Californian vineyards have proved to be field blends of Durif and another variety called Pelourisin.  

More recent DNA Analysis has shown that Durif is in fact a cross of Syrah (Shiraz) and Pelourisin. Its resemblance to both of its parents has of doubt caused some of the confusion.

In Australia, the CSIRO uses DNA fingerprinting to clear up confusion about similar grape varieties. They report that the grapes  imported to Australia are indeed Durif and not Peloursin.

Durif In Australia

In Australia the variety is most commonly associated with Rutherglen in North Eastern Victoria. 

The Rutherglen Wine Region built its reputation around fortified wines - Port, Muscat and Tokay - as we misnamed them until fairly recently.  There were also plenty of big age-worthy reds with plenty (probably too much) of body, oak, tannins and alcohol. Durif and Shiraz were the varieties used in these wines.

The wine styles now have probably toned down a little since the 1960s, but these are still impressive wines.

As well as red wines Durif is used, of the blended with Shiraz, to make sparkling red wine.

The list below shows that Rutherglen does not have a monopoly on the variety. It is used in quite a few of Australia's warm climate wine regions, as well as at least one cooler region.

  • 201 Wines Hunter Valley
  • 919 Wines Riverland
  • A T Richardson Wines Grampians
  • Alex Russell Wines Riverland
  • All Saints Estate Rutherglen
  • Anderson Winery Rutherglen
  • Atze's Corner Wines Barossa Valley
  • Bailey's of Glenrowan Glenrowan
  • Boyntons Feathertop Alpine Valleys
  • Brown Brothers King Valley
  • Brumby Wines Swan Hill
  • Bullers Calliope Rutherglen
  • Calabria Family Wines Riverina
  • Calico Town Rutherglen
  • Campbells Wines Rutherglen
  • Cape Horn Vineyard Goulburn Valley
  • Captain Barossa Barossa Valley
  • Chambers Rosewood Rutherglen
  • Charles Cimicky Barossa Valley
  • Ciavarella King Valley
  • Cirami Estate Riverland
  • Cofield Wines Rutherglen
  • Connor Park Bendigo
  • Cow Hill Beechworth
  • Date Brothers Swan Hill
  • Dell'uva Wines  Barossa Valley
  • Domaine Asmara Heathcote
  • Eldorado Road North East Victoria
  • Faber Vineyard Swan Valley
  • Five o’Clock Project McLaren Vale
  • Flying Duck Estate Heathcote
  • Folino Estate Alpine Valleys
  • Fratelli Heathcote
  • Gapsted Alpine Valleys
  • Golden Grove Estate Granite Belt
  • Heritage Estate Granite Belt
  • John Gehrig Wines King Valley
  • Kabminye Wines Barossa Valley
  • Kalleske Wines Barossa Valley
  • Kimbolton Langhorne Creek
  • Lake Moodemere Rutherglen
  • Lion Mill Vineyards Perth Hills
  • Mandalay Road Geographe
  • Massena Wines Barossa Valley
  • Michael Unwin Wines Grampians
  • Miranda Wines, Griffith Riverina
  • Monichino Wines Goulburn Valley
  • Morris Rutherglen
  • Morrisons of Glenrowan Glenrowan
  • Mount Pilot Estate North East Victoria
  • Mount Prior Rutherglen
  • Mout Buff Wines Alpine valleys
  • Mudgee Wines Mudgee
  • Murray Estate Big Rivers Zone
  • Myattsfield Vineyard and Winery Perth Hills
  • Noble Red Heathcote
  • Oak Works Riverland
  • Olive Farm Swan District
  • Olive Hills Estate Rutherglen
  • Patrice Winery North East Victoria
  • Petersons Glenesk Estate Mudgee
  • Pieter van Gent Mudgee
  • Pinelli Swan Valley
  • Pyren Vineyard Pyrenees
  • Reedy Creek New England
  • Rolf Binder Barossa Valley
  • Rusticana Langhorne Creek
  • Rutherglen Estates Rutherglen
  • Sam Miranda Wines King Valley
  • Santolin Yarra Valley
  • Scarpantoni Estate McLaren Vale
  • Scion Vineyard Rutherglen
  • Spook Hill Wines Riverland
  • St Annes Vineyards Perricoota
  • Stanton and Killeen Wines Rutherglen
  • Steinborner Family Vineyards Barossa Valley
  • Taminick Cellars Glenrowan
  • Tawonga Vineyard Alpine Valleys
  • Thomas New England Estate New England
  • Trahna Rutherglen Wines Rutherglen
  • Underground Winemakers Mornington Peninsula
  • Vale Vineyard Mornington Peninsula
  • Valhalla Wines Rutherglen
  • Warburn Estate Riverina
  • Warrabilla Wines Rutherglen
  • Witches Falls Winery Granite Belt
  • Yacca Paddock Vineyards Adelaide Hills

Aussie winemakers talk about this variety

Surprisingly, Durif has also found its way to cool climate areas. John Vale of Vale Wines at Balnarring on the Mornington Peninsula has successfully pioneered the variety. You can read all about his experiences in his article Cool Climate Durif? You must be kidding! 

Dan Crane, winemaker at All Saints Winery in the Rutherglen Region has written about how long maceration is used to bring out the best of the variety's prodigious tannins when making All Saints Durif

You can also read this article where Smithy from Warrabilla Wines, Rutherglen has written Confessions of a Durif Tragic

Learn More about Grape varieties

De Long's Wine Grape Varietal TableDe Long's Wine Grape Varietal Table

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Durif and food

This variety makes full bodied wines so you might enjoy Durif with rich, meaty stews and game dishes. For example, you might like to try my recipe for Braised Oxtail with Black Olives.

Grilled and barbecued meats are another option, but probably not fish or seafood

With cheeses you might like consider something from the hard section. Aged vintage cheddar, Spanish manchego, or the Italian Piave.

Evan Goldstein includes Durif, under its American name Petite Sirah in his book Daring Pairings.

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