Durif is red wine grape varietal, that is named after Dr. Francois Durif, a botanist in the late 1800's at the University of Montpellier in southern France. He created this new varietal by crossing the Syrah grape with the Peloursin varietal in the 1860's. His new varietal was resistant to the disease 'Powdery Mildew'. However, the new varietal was likely to suffer from rot due to the very tight bunches that Durif formed, that meant it did not grow well in its native climate of the Rhône Valley.
Durif is primarily grown in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, California, Mexico, Israel and a small amount is planted in France. On some occasions, Peloursin and Syrah vines may be called Petite Sirah, usually because the vines are extremely difficult to distinguish in old age.

 

The grape's high resistance to powdery mildew encouraged its cultivation in the early 20th century in areas like Isère and Ardèche, although the relative low quality of the resulting wine caused the grape to fall out of favour with local wineries.
Durif arrived in Australia by way of enigmatic viticulturist Francois de Castella (son of a Swiss-born vigneron), while looking for new vines after phylloxera ravaged most of Australia. He returned in 1908 with Durif, grafted to phylloxera-resistant vines. These were propagated at the Rutherglen Viticultural Research Station and then spread around the region when replanting took place as affected vines were removed.
Durif is known to produce: dark, inky coloured wines with a bright acidity, with firm texture and mouth feel; the bouquet has herbal, black pepper and spice, and typically offers flavours of dark berries and fruits. Compared to Syrah, the wine is noticeably darker and purple in colour, and typically rounder and fuller in the mouth.
The wines are very tannic, with aging ability that can exceed 20 years. Durif can sometimes be rather 'short', that is the flavour does not linger in the mouth, hence the benefit of blending with another grape which may lack mid-palate depth, but add elegance and length.