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Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Bob Ross » Fri Oct 12, 2007 5:46 pm

As an update on my little nomenclature study, I've sent the following timeline to two experts on wine in Australia, a respected librarian and a respected wine historian. It will be fun to see what additions and corrections they make to my amateur efforts.

Regards, Bob

Timeline of "Shiraz" in Australia.

[Please note that I'm focusing simply on the names, not the actual identity of grapes. I'm up-to-date on the DNA evidence, for example.]

OED:

[< French syrah (20th cent.), earlier sirrah, {dag}sirac, {dag}syras (1845 or earlier), {dag}scyras (1827 or earlier), of unknown origin. Cf. earlier PETITE SIRAH n. Cf. also slightly earlier SHIRAZ n. 2 and discussion at that entry.]

A variety of black grape used in winemaking, originating in the French Rhône region and now planted in most wine-growing countries; the red wine made from these grapes; = SHIRAZ n. 2.

[Shiraz] 2. The name of a variety of grape from which red wine is made, grown orig. in the Rhône valley of France; the wine made from this grape.

The French name for the grape is syrah (scyras, sirrah are also found). The Eng. form is app. an alteration of this, influenced by the belief that the vine was brought (by Crusaders) from Iran and is therefore to be identified with that from which Shiraz (sense 1a) is made.

______________________

1817 Under the papers listed as "Horticultural Correspondence and Lists of Plants 1817-1873" is the "List of the plants remaining alive, on board the Lord Eldon". The first plants mentioned were headed "Vines" and in this list was Syracuse and also Hermitage - both old names for Shiraz. (I don't know why both names appeared, sixth and eleventh respectively on the List). Norrie.

1826 In the (Enologie Franfaise, a very minute and correct account of the French vineyards, published in 1826, the name of this grape is spelt Scyras; and it is stated that, according to the tradition of the neighbourhood, the plant was originally brought from Shiraz in Persia, by one of the hermits of the mountain. Busby, Journal, 1823.

1827 OED {dag}scyras (1827 or earlier), of unknown origin. Reference?

1833 History and Description of Modern Wines, by Cyrus Redding 1833. "Hermitage is now produced from the Scyras, or Shiraz grape, supposed to have been originally Persian, the grape of Shiraz being the finest in the world." Page 20.

1834 JOURNAL .... JAMES BUSBY, ESQ. Published 1834, Smith, Elder. The best red wines of Hermitage are made exclusively from one variety, and the white wines from two varieties ; but in the district generally a much greater number of varieties are cultivated. The Red Grape is named the Ciras *. ... Page 108.

1834 Gentlemans Magazine, London: "Hermitage is grown from the Shiraz grape of Persia."

1844: From Sir William Macarthur's "Letters on the Vine" James Halliday extracted the following: "Scyras - An excellent grape and promises to be at least equally valuable for red wine as the Verdeilho [sic] is for white. This is the sort said to be chiefly cultivated on the celebrated hill of Hermitage."

1851 A History and Description of Modern Wine, by Cyrus Redding. "Hermitage, as before observed, is produced from the Scyras, or Shiraz grape." Page 48.

1861: A.C. Kelly, The Vine in Australia, refers to "Scyras". John Wilson.

1864: John Wilson's history of Carl Meyerhoff's Vineyard: "In 1864 J. A. Zimmermann had advertised for sale nine different wines, 'either by glass or bottle including Tokay, Riesling, Brown Muscat, Aucarot, Shiraz, Malbec, White Muscat etc'." [Not confirmed as "Shiraz" or some other name.]

1867: A.C. Kelly, Wine Growing in Australia. He had then changed his tune, referring to "Sirrah", or "Scyras". John Wilson.

1889: The Official Catalogue of the Exhibits, Melbourne, Centennial International Exhibit. "It may be observed in passing that, as in the French vineyards, the phylloxera devastation has caused an extensive uprooting of old vines and replanting of new cuttings, around Oporto, from California and Australia. The Mustang, or native vine of Arizona, and the Shiraz and Carbinet vines from Australia, are among those introduced on the Douro."

Also: T.. Bankside.- Dry sherry, 1876; sherry, 1876 ; shiraz, 1815 ; white Spanish, 1880 ; reisling, 1885 ; No. 1 claret, 1882. [Other winemakers showed "Hermitage".]

1904 Romeo Bragato, New Zealand's first Government Viticulturist, refers to the grape in 1905 as both Hermitage and Black Hermitage, with the name Shiraz often following in brackets.

1908 Hadbook of South Australia, David John Gordon: "It was probably from Mr. Bushby's collection that South Australians obtained the varieties named, as well as the Shiraz."

1966 Courier-Mail (Brisbane) 25 Oct. 2/10 "He thought his 1952 shiraz was of such vast quality there was no bottle in a restaurant cellar to equal it." [OED example.]

1986 Robinson in Vines, Grapes and Wines: "As Shiraz (an understandable Strinisation of Macarthur's 'Scyras' ..."
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Bob Ross » Sat Oct 13, 2007 11:50 am

Oops, I mis-posted this in the main wine Forum. I'll repost here and clean up the dirty work elsewhere:

I've now received a response from Dr. David Dunson; I've added his bio at the end of his comments. I was particularly taken with his final comment. Smile

Regards, Bob

This is a very useful speculation/investigation and I am surprised that it does not seem to have been done before. I cannot offer an immediate reaction. All those terms you cite were current in the C19th and there is the complicating factor of the variety being known as Hermitage. It would be useful to trawl through the major C19th Australian authorities. Most of my work has involved these and C19th newspapers. The show records are also interesting and I can go back to some of those with a bit of time. The problem seems to be that Australian winemakers (even today) feel pretty well entitled to call their wine whatever they like in order to sell it.


Dr. David Dunstan --

http://arts.monash.edu.au/ncas/about/ou ... nstan.html

David graduated in History at Monash University in 1975. He completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne in 1983 and Graduate Diploma in Editing and Publishing at RMIT University in 1995. He has taught in Victorian schools and Australian History and Australian Studies at the University of Melbourne and at Monash and Deakin universities and has worked with the Government of Victoria in heritage administration and with Museum Victoria. He is the author of Governing the Metropolis (1984), Better Than Pommard!: a History of Wine in Victoria (1994) and Owen Suffolk's Days of Crime and Years of Suffering (2000). He is a contributor to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, a member of its Victorian working party and its Board, an editor of the Journal of Publishing, an associate editor of The Encyclopedia of Melbourne (2005), and an associate and board member of the Tourism Research Unit at Monash University.
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Oct 13, 2007 7:11 pm

Great to see you are getting some response Bob!!
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Bob Ross » Sun Oct 14, 2007 9:40 am

Keeping new arrivals to the timeline in one place, here is a very important set of 1883 references showing that two wine makers in Victoria were using the "Shiraz" name by 1883, and one might argue the "Syrah" name as well.

One interesting complication in this word history is that the three wine growing states have such a different and complex history -- there are three Australias in this era. I'm also deeply impressed with how urban Australia is proving to be -- almost 90% of the population lives in six cities.

Also another Scyras reference from the 1850's -- there is less and less support for "Shiraz" being a Strine concoction and more and more that it was carried to Australia from England in early days.

1883: Journal: Victoria Board of Vinticulture. "If the Pinot of Burgundy, the Syra or Shiraz of Hermitage, the Carbenet of Bordeaux, and two or three more were eliminated, the reputation of those wines would be gone. Fortunately for Australia the founders of her wine industry were men of the world, who imported their plants from the districts of Europe producing the best wines. Their plantations were entirely composed of fine cépages, and these were gradually and almost exclusively propagated all over the colonies—an invaluable boon for the future. At the present moment the red grapes above mentioned are the most cultivated in Australia, especially the Syra of Hermitage, a most valuable cépage." Paper read at Royal Colonial Institute, London, by Hubert [Paul?] de Castella. [St. Hubert]

Also in this paper: "The Government of the Cape Colony, as I find from South African blue-books, has secured the services of an able viticulturist from Germany, Baron Carl von Babo, who has been, placed in charge of the famous Coustantia Estate, now a viticultural school. A few yearß hence a transformation may be expected in the production of that colony, whose wine industry dates from 1653. Baron von Babo, in his last report, advocates wines of light colour, of little spirit, and much bouquet; and recommends the cultivation of fine vines, particularly that of the Syra of Hermitage." Paper read at Royal Colonial Institute, London, by Hubert [Paul?] de Castella. [St. Hubert]

1883: Journal: Victoria Board of Vinticulture. From our limited observations it would appear that the following grapes are those which are most addicted to the Oidiuin—viz., the Black Spanish, the Black Hambro', Shiraz or Hermitage, Red Moscatel, Black Moscatel, White Moscatel or Frontignan, and Yellow Safrina. F. COUSLANDT, Chateau Tahbilk Vineyard.


Also, I found another Scyras reference:

1852: Australia as it is: Its Settlements, Farms, and Gold Fields, by Francis Lancelott. Excellent wine has been made in the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria from the following varieties: for red wine, Scyras, Malbec, Carbenet, Grenache, Carignan, and the Pineau-gris ; for white wine, La Folle, Aucarot, the Tokays, and the Verdeilho.
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Sue Courtney » Sun Oct 14, 2007 4:35 pm

Bob Ross wrote:1883: Journal: Victoria Board of Vinticulture. ...
Also in this paper: "The Government of the Cape Colony, as I find from South African blue-books, has secured the services of an able viticulturist from Germany, Baron Carl von Babo, who has been, placed in charge of the famous Coustantia Estate, now a viticultural school. A few yearß hence a transformation may be expected in the production of that colony, whose wine industry dates from 1653. Baron von Babo, in his last report, advocates wines of light colour, of little spirit, and much bouquet; and recommends the cultivation of fine vines, particularly that of the Syra of Hermitage." Paper read at Royal Colonial Institute, London, by Hubert [Paul?] de Castella. [St. Hubert]

Bob, Many of the boats that travelled from England, did so via the Cape of Good Hope. Could there be a link from there?
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Bob Ross » Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:15 pm

Might be Sue.

I've also discovered that the Commonwealth had some sort of an organization charged with promoting wine in the Colonies around the world. I haven't seen a history of the contacts between South Africa and Australia/New Zealand in the wine world, but there are many references to them in the texts I've seen.

BTW, I'm having increasing doubts about the Strinisation theory for "Shiraz" in Australia. Jancis Robinson may be the source of this explanation of the word. I've posted this message on the Purple:

Jancis, it occurs to me that I should ask you about the source for this quote: "As Shiraz (an understandable Strinisation of Macarthur's 'Scyras'} ..." Vines, Grapes and Wines, Jancis Robinson, 1986 [as it appears in my 1999 reprint].

I've seen many online references to the Strinisation source for "Shiraz" in Australia, but realized this morning that they only occur on the internet and not in books or articles before that date. All the online text I've seen was written after 1986. Many sources cite you as the authority; others parse it out on their own or simply state it as a fact.

Many thanks, Bob


Regards, Bob
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Oct 14, 2007 8:24 pm

I very briefly did a quick search on S Africa, doing a google search......"shiraz history in SA". Not much as come up yet.

Bob R, as an aside, are you getting any swans right now? Thousands here in Central AB
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Bob Ross » Sun Oct 14, 2007 10:06 pm

Jancis has now replied to my question about the creation of "Shiraz" through Strine -- "Pure speculation on my part, I'm afraid, Bob."

That's actually a great relief -- the written record shows that "Scryas" was pretty much replaced by "Hermitage" and the "Shiraz" back in the mid 1800s.

Another of the joys of "research" -- destroying speculative, even though plausible, theories. :)
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Oct 14, 2007 11:00 pm

http://www.winereviewonline.com/MA_WA_Sriraz.cfm

I was just doing some research on Frankland River and found this, Bob. Really pertains to Western Australia shiraz but some history here.
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Bob Ross » Sun Oct 14, 2007 11:47 pm

Thanks for the lead, Bob. I've got to contact Bill Hardy and see what his documents actually say.

According to Bill Hardy, grandson of Eileen Hardy and group enologist for the Hardy Wine Company, James Busby, the father of the Australian wine industry, went to Europe to select vines for an excellent reason: there simply was no such thing as an indigenous vine in Australia. In 1831, he arrived in northern Rhône town of Tain-l'Hermitage, where he found that the best wines were made from Syrah--and not uncommonly shipped to Bordeaux to enrich their more famous but comparatively anemic cousins. (Thus the Australians were not the first to blend Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, though they are probably the first to label the resulting blends explicitly). Busby returned to Australia with Syrah vines and the rest, as they say, is history.

Hardy disputes the popular idea that the grape was named for either Syracuse, a city in Sicily, or Shiraz, a city in Persia. Instead he believes, based on documentary evidence, that the name Shiraz arises from nothing more than poor Australian spelling and pronunciation. According to documents, Busby spelled it Ciras. Later writings refer to it as Scyris. In 1867, Dr. Alexander Kelly, the founder of Tintara, one of the wineries currently in the Hardy Wine Company, was already spelling it Sirrah.


One example of something Hardy is clearly wrong on is the word "Ciras"; Busby does use it, but has a footnote clarifying the usage: "* In the (Enologie Franfaise, a very minute and correct account of the French vineyards, published in 1826, the name of this grape is spelt Scyras ; and it is stated that, according to the tradition of the neighbourhood, the plant was originally brought from Shiraz in Persia, by one of the hermits of the
mountain."

For example, Loudon writes in 1834:

From Tain, Busby went to the
Hill of Hermitage, of which he gives the following account: — " The Hill of Hermitage is so called from an ancient hermitage, the ruins of which are still in existence near its top. It was inhabited by hermits till within the last 100 years. The hill, though of considerable height, is not of great extent; the whole front which looks to the south may contain 300 acres; but of this, though the whole is under vines, the lower part is too rich to yield those of the best quality, and a part near the top is too cold to bring its produce to perfect maturity. Even of the middle region, the whole extent does not produce the finest wines. M. Machon, the gentleman whose property we were traversing, pointed out to me the direction in which a belt of calcareous soil crossed the ordinary granitic soil of the mountain; and he said it requires the grapes of these different soils to be mixed in order to produce the finest quality of Hermitage. I took home a portion of the soil which he pointed out as calcareous ; and the degree of effervescence which took place on my pouring vinegar upon it indicated the presence of a considerable portion of lime. It is probably to this peculiarity that the wine of Hermitage owes its superiority ; for, to all appearance, many of the neighbouring hills on both sides of the Rhone present situations equally favourable, although the wine produced, even upon the best of them, never rises to above half the value of the former, and, in general, not to the fourth of that value. A good deal may also be attributed to the selection of varieties. The best red wines of Hermitage are made exclusively from one sort of grape, which is named Ciras, properly spelled Scyras, which is thought to be a corruption of Shiraz, in Persia, whence this grape is said to have been brought originally, by one of the hermits of the mountain."

"Ciras" was only one of several names used for the Hermitage grape, not just by Busby, but by many other writers in England, the US and in France.
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by David Cobbold » Tue Oct 16, 2007 5:03 am

Dear Bob,

Perhaps I could shed a slightly different light on this matter of the origin of syrah/shiraz, its names and its migration to Australia.

We have to be careful here to separate facts from legend and speculation. The factual contribution of all those who mention the variability of the spellings used to name this variety are useful. They prove, once again (one can find similar instances of variable spellings or even different local names regarding all varieties mentioned in or before the 19th century), that ampelography is a fairly recent science and it had to pick up on what had previously been empirical practise in terms of identification or naming, often by growers who had not been to school.

As to the origin of the plants that first arrived in Australia in the late 18th or early 19th century, they certainly didn't come from England! They may well have transited via England, but their origins were surely in South-Eastern France, and particularly in the Northern Rhone area. Hermitage was, even at that time, one of France's most famous wines, selling for the price levels of top Burgundies and Bordeaux (sometimes higher) in the first restaurants to exist in Paris in the early 19th century. The syrah grape was known to be its sole or main ingredient, so it is natural that this was taken to Australia, as well as other top varieties. Its naming as Hermitage is clearly a reference to its origin and its most famous product (Côte Rôtie was also known at the time, but sold for slightly less). Its quality is also attested by the fact that it was, at this period, sometimes used to improve the blend at Château Lafite in poor vintages. It may well have been the Calvet negociant family, who came from Tain l'Hermitage and who were one of the main Bordeaux shippers, who instigated this pratice.

All ampelographic reference works show how variable the spelling of its name was. Galet, the current French reference work, mentions over 20 variants, some of them very different one from another. Sirah, syrah, syra, schiras, sirac, serine are the closest. It is clear from just these few examples that any one could have stuck to the plant without any need for "strinisation." It happend to be schiras.

As to speculations about its origins, there are three main "theories":
The town or surrounding area of Shiraz in former Persia. In this case the variety is purported to have been brought to France by a knight (Sterimberg), returning from a crusade in the 13th century.
The town or surrounding area of Syracuse in Sicily, either introduced to France under the Roman Emperor Probus in the 3rd century, or, again, brought back by a knight returning from a crusade.
Local emergence in South-Eastern France under natural causes.

It seems to me that the first two are pure legends, which have their origin in the similarity of the names of these two places. Given the changing nature of place names through time and the fact that no trace of this grape is known in either place, both can be discounted.

The third theory has recently been given serious credit by investigation of the gentics of syrah/shiraz. Reserach conducted by both the University of California and INRA in Montpellier (France) indicates that syrah is a spontaneous crossing between a Savoie variety called mondeuse blanc and an Ardeche variety called duazé or dureza. This seems far more logical, for several reasons. Syrah became famous in the Northern Rhone area, which lies just in between the Savoie and Ardeche depertements. It would also explain, for instance, why what is known as petite sirah is sometimes thought to be the same as an old french variety called durif (durif, dureza). And a famous and high quality red variety being the result of a spontaneous crossing between red and white parents is not unique. After all, cabernet sauvignon is the product of a crossing between cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc.
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Bob Ross » Tue Oct 16, 2007 4:14 pm

Thanks, David. I don't really disagree with your summary in any significant respect. I would note, though, that the English influence on naming this grape in Australia cannot be discounted. Many of the writers were English, and their work was often vetted in England.

More anon -- thanks for the thoughts.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Sue Courtney » Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:22 pm

Bob,
Back tracking,you are looking for the evolution of the usage of the word 'Shiraz' in Australia.
There was an interesting article in the local daily the other day, for which an article in Nature magazine was the catalyst.
The Nature article was on word evolution - and although it doesn't even mention Shiraz, Syrah, Scyras, Syra, Sirrah - indeed none of the synonyms of the topic of this thread, it may have some answers.
You have to remember that the people who colonised the colonies (i.e Aus and NZ) were from all different parts of the UK - with many many different accents. The different accents that the colonies inherited from the 'mother land' is still in evidence today.

Here's the lead into to the article:
http://www.nature.com/news/2007/071010/ ... 7.152.html
and some of the comments are interesting.

However it still doesn't give your answer - just maybe some clues.


Cheers,
Sue
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Bob Ross » Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:14 pm

Thanks, Sue. I've been trying to parse out when "Strine" became a dialect -- over time I'm sure, but at some point people must have started recognizing it as something new in the world of languages.

The OED has a precise date for the creation of the word "Strine", but I'll have to do some more work to see when it achieved language status.

[imit. of alleged Austral. pronunc. of Australian, coined by Alistair Morrison in 1964 under the pseudonym ‘Afferbeck Lauder’ (Strine pronunc. of ‘alphabetical order’).]

A. adj. Australian. B. n. a. An Australian. b. The English language as (allegedly) spoken by Australians.
1964 A. MORRISON in Sydney Morning Herald (Sat. Mag.) 19 Dec., (heading) New light on the Strine language, by Afferbeck Lauder, Professor of Strine Studies, University of Sinny. Ibid., Selected translations of everyday words will be of interest..also to overseas vistas and to the many New Strines in our mist. 1965 ‘A. LAUDER’ (title) Let stalk Strine. 1965 Listener 2 Sept. 340/1 While I was there they discovered a new dialect or speech pattern called Strine. Strine is simply the way the word ‘Australian’ sounds if you slur and twist it enough. 1967 Daily Express 6 May 13/6 He said in a broad Strine accent: [etc.]. 1973 E. MCGIRR Bardel's Murder iv. 93 Iced beer stops up the nose which is why you Yanks and also the Strines talk so funny. 1974 Times 21 Dec. 10/6 ‘The legs, Ealing, go for the legs!’ she exhorted in a strong 'strine accent. 1980 [see ROOMETTE].
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Sue Courtney » Thu Oct 18, 2007 2:37 am

Bob,
I'm sure the use of the word 'Shiraz' pre-dates 'Strine'.
I find it easy to imagine a thick set, broad, country English accent pronouncing Scyras as Shyras (with the 'as' pronounced 'ah' as the French do) but then I can also imagine the English colonists seeing it in writing and pronouncing the 'as' as 'as', as we tend to do. Then the spelling change would have evolved from the phonetic pronunciation of the word.
But as I said in another thread, I know some Aussie winemakers here in New Zealand who call the grape 'Shirrah'.
Cheers,
Sue
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Bob Ross » Thu Oct 18, 2007 9:17 am

Jancis Robinson went through the same sort of reasoning, she wrote on Purple recently, but admitted that it was speculation.

I'm pretty sure that the Shiraz name came from the connection between "Hermitage" and the legend of monk and Persia -- you can find many written references to the linkage between the two over the 200 years since the first example I've found.

"Sirrah" is a different line, based on the several "ser" based words. Asher writes that the French have extensively studied this history, and the results are so far revealed only to a few people. Asher gives a short explanation of history, but the exhaustive history has not yet been published. [I'll quote the Asher passage later when the book is to hand.]

I'm sure the French study makes my efforts on the French side relatively meaningless. It would be fun, though, to trace the name in Australia and New Zealand, especially through the show records and local newspapers.

Thanks for the help, Sue.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Timeline of the name "Shiraz" in Australia.

by Sue Courtney » Thu Oct 18, 2007 4:44 pm

Here's something else to speculate on (having just seen a television promo for the program 'Saving Grace'.)

Imagine Holly Hunter saying 'Get out of the car, sir'.
To my ear it sounds like 'Get out of the car, shir'.

BTW, I've come across a few people that cannot pronounce 's' as 'ess', more as 'esh'.
When I worked at the University of Auckland, there was one Asian student who always called me 'Shue', much to the amusement of several of my colleagues.

Of course, going back to the association to the name of the city in Persia is the obvious one, especially, as it seems, people were infatuated with the romanticism of the Middle East at the time - and Busby did mention Shiraz in his writing. He was the teacher in Australia.

But I can see how people's way of talking has come up with so many synonyms for Syrah / Shiraz. Not Strine - way before Strine.

I agree somewhat with Hardy - not the poor Australian spelling, as Shiraz has its documented origin, but poor pronunciation, definitely yes.

Cheers,
Sue

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