A question of style
For more or less pure syrah, look to the northern Rhône; for blends in which syrah plays a major role alongside grenache, mourvèdre and cinsault, look to the south.
Côtes du Rhône as an appellation covers the entire Rhône region, so you can find a variety of differing styles under the name, though the majority tend to hail from southern Rhône.
By any other name
Synonyms for syrah include syrac and sira.
The variety actually comes from Fars, a province of Iran, the capital of which is, believe it or not, called Shiraz.
Taste depends on where, and how old. Northern Rhône is rich and tannic with a velvety edge; southern Rhône is softer, and more approachable in youth. South African has more spicy stewed fruit, while Australian is a compote of dark fruits with a peppery finish.
This article was published on 8th August 2011 so certain details may not be up to date.