Aug 28 2010
If there is one type of wine Australia knows how to make best, it has to be Shiraz, one the top red wines. It is the grape that we have made our own with wines such as Penfolds Grange wowing drinkers around the world. Walk into most wine shops in the United States or Europe and you are sure to find a good selection of Australian Shiraz to choose from. While there was a time where Cabernet Sauvignon was flavour of the month, and old Shiraz vines were even being pulled from the ground because the wines couldn’t be given away, Australian Shiraz, or Syrah as it is sometimes known, is now more popular, and interesting, than ever before.
Many feel that Shiraz with its robust flavour, is best suited when consumed with a juicy steak or even better, drunk alone. While much Shiraz is made in this style, especially from McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley regions, Shiraz is made made to suit drinkers of any palate. From sweet Rose to big and powerful alcoholic monsters Shiraz is the Jack of all trades.
Vineyard climate, though, has a great effect on red wine style with full-bodied wines usually coming from warmer areas of South Australia, while cooler regions such as Coonawarra, Margaret River in Western Australia as well as parts of Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory making spicier, more perfumed wines. The Hunter Valley is also another region that has long made a good Shiraz earthy wines that have a leathery character, especially after you age them for a few years.
Shiraz grapes are also well used when blending with other grape varieties. Shiraz can have a very rich, full flavour and a high alcohol content which is aided by the presence of Grenache and Mourvedre. Generally, Shiraz Cabernet is ideal for storing and aging and a well structured blend. More recently in Australian wine making has been to add the white Viognier grape to Shiraz. Surprisingly, you may find that a Shiraz Viognier blend can be quite aromatic and have a subtle flavour, as result producing some excellent wines.
But whichever way you like it, Shiraz is worth getting to know because it produces types of red wine that have plenty of fruit and are generally great drinking as soon as they hit the shelves.