Wine Varieties

Shiraz Wine

Shiraz wine is Australia’s most successful varietal. Australia has an international reputation for blockbuster, Shiraz-based reds. Outside of Australi…

Australia Shiraz and Syrah

Shiraz wine is Australia’s most successful varietal. Australia has an international reputation for blockbuster, Shiraz-based reds. Outside of Australia, the varietal and the wine are known as Syrah. Shiraz (Syrah) is a constituent grape in wines from Côtes du Rhône.  

 

Pioneering viticulturist James Busby planted early Australian Shiraz vines, cuttings imported from France, in Sydney’s Botanic Gardens. After this, he was responsible for the first major vine plantings in NSW in the Hunter Valley. Shiraz was later planted in South Australia in the 1800s.

 

McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley Shiraz are highly regarded throughout the world. Noted for their blockbuster styles, these wines are full-bodied and full of fruit.

 

Arguably the best Shiraz in Australia is Penfolds Grange; it is certainly the most famous and is highly decorated. The maiden vintage was in 1951 but it but it wasn’t until 1962, when the 1955 vintage was recognised, that Grange began to dominate the Australian wine market. Grange is primarily a Shiraz but has a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon with recent vintages adding some Viognier. This Australian Shiraz has been instrumental in putting Australian wine on the global map.

Sparkling Shiraz

Sparkling Shiraz is something of an Australian speciality. Entry-level examples of this Australian Shiraz style can be sweet but it is with a bit of age, care and restraint the potential of this style of wine can be realised. Australian Sparkling Shiraz has something of a cult following in the domestic market. Sparkling Shiraz should not simply be considered a quirky, experimental wine as some wine producers reserving their finest grapes for this Australian Shiraz style.

 

Pronunciation of Shiraz

The pronunciation of Shiraz is straightforward. It is simply Sher-az. Whereas, Syrah is pronounced Si-rah.

Barossa Valley Shiraz

Characteristics of Australian Shiraz

Australian Shiraz has a reputation for big-red, blockbuster styles that are bold in flavour with high-alcohol content. However, Shiraz is influenced by climate and landscape and, as such, there is diversity to be found in Australian examples.

 

The best Shiraz from The Hunter Valley is characterised by leather, black pepper and blackcurrants in the bouquet while the palate issues more of the same with something of a slap in the mouth. Moving up a weight class, Rutherglen and Glenrowan, the Northeast Victoria zone, are renowned for burly reds that have surprising balance amongst all the huge blackberry fruit flavour. The Barossa is world famous for monster Australian Shiraz. The hallmark of Barossa Valley Shiraz shows red berry and cinnamon with cedary, oaky notes in the bouquet and a palate of rampaging redcurrants, mocha and licorice.

Shiraz and food pairing

Food parings with Australian Shiraz should considered in the context of the diverse styles. The red-with-red rule is in effect when it comes to Shiraz as wilting-lily, delicate food tend to get trampled. With a Hunter Valley Shiraz, a rare, cattleman’s cut will pair perfectly. A Rutherglen red will stand up nicely with a beef casserole. To keep up with a Barossa Valley Shiraz something stronger is required. A dark kangaroo fillet with its gamey flavours will be able to cope with some of those South Australian full-bodied wines.

 

Shiraz and food pairing

Shiraz and cheese pairing

Balance is, as always, important. Australian Shiraz tends to be more powerful than international Syrah wines. As such, as with food, hard cheese suits the muscularity of Australian Shiraz.

 

Crumbly, mature cheddar stands up very well where a weaker cheese would simply fold under the pressure. The positive Italian influence on South Australia’s wine, food and cultural scenes should be noted. So it is perhaps appropriate that a sliver of Pecorino, or other hard Italian cheeses, is the perfect accompaniment to a full-bodied Barossa Valley Shiraz.

Notable Shiraz regions

The Rhône Valley in France is a renowned region for growing Syrah. The wine is particular to the slopes of the valley for which Côtes du Rhône is named.

 

Australian Shiraz is grown with great success in the Hunter Valley and Canberra region in New South Wales, Beechworth, Rutherglen and Glenrowan in Victoria, Margaret River in Western Australia and McLaren Vale in South Australia.

Barossa Valley Shiraz

Australian Shiraz from the Barossa Valley is renowned throughout the world but it is not for the faint of heart. The Barossa Valley and Eden Valley make up the Barossa region. 

Famous names in Australian Shiraz

While the world is more than familiar with Jacob’s Creek and Wolf Blass, when it comes to top end there is one name that leads the charge for Australian wine, that name is Penfolds. The Penfolds trump card is Grange, a Shiraz in the Barossa Valley style but with grapes from across South Australia.

 

Another big name in Australian Shiraz is also from South Australia. Henschke’s Hill of Grace is lauded and awarded with the grapes harvested from some of the oldest vines in Australia

 

One example of the relatively new superstars is in the Canberra region with Clonakilla’s Shiraz Viognier. This wine has received awards and acclaim with its elegant and contemporary style. This is great example of the diversity in styles across the range of Australian Shiraz. Other notable styles are produced by Krondorf, Dorrien Estate, McWilliams, Hardy’s, Angora, Dolan Family Wines and Rohrlach.

File under:

  • shiraz
  • barossa valley
  • Red Wine