Shiraz (pron. sheer-az or seera)
There is nothing quite like a knockout Aussie Shiraz. No other grape has such a uniquely Australian character. The world’s wine makers try but they will never capture that mulberry, spicy, all-out jammy, slightly ‘wild’ flavor that is Australia’s own red wine style of Shiraz.
Australian Shiraz may be genetically the same as Syrah (which has been grown in the Rhone Valley of France since the Middle Ages) but it doesn’t taste the same. Syrah from the Rhone is distinctly gamey in aroma and tannic in texture. The warmer Australian climate produces wines that are sweeter and riper tasting. Australian Shiraz wine is a deep, dark wine with exotic spicy aromas, abundant berry flavors and a rich texture. Its character changes depending on the region in which it is grown.
First introduced in the 1830s, Australia has some of the world’s oldest Shiraz vines, specifically in South Australia but it is now planted in most of Australia’s wine regions. The experience of Australian Shiraz varies: the elegant, peppery cool climate style of Victoria: the more intensely flavored berry, spicy styles of the Coonawarra and Margaret River regions: the powerful and minty from the Clare Valley: the sweet and chocolaty in McLaren Vale: the robust and ripe-fruited from the Barossa: and the leather and rich from the Hunter Valley region.
Sometimes called Syrah by Americans, Shiraz vines are relatively productive, yet not too vigorous and although Shiraz buds fairly late, it is a mid-season ripener. Shiraz grapes require heat to get fully ripe but can lose character when even slightly overripe. The berry is thick-skinned and dark, almost black.
Australian Shiraz wine goes with almost any meat, game or pasta dish. It’s so ripe and gushy it even works well with many spicy Asian or Latin foods that wouldn’t pair well with a tannic Cabernet. Most Americans love Australian Shiraz wine because it has lots of flavor and the familiar richness of a California red. It is an incredibly complex and rich wine and quality Australian Shiraz can be found at a variety of price points.
Check out our Food and Wine Pairing suggestions to see the best choice for your Australian Shiraz.