Shiraz tastes and aromas

Flavours and aromas of blackberry, blueberry, cherry, chocolate, espresso, black pepper, olives, herbs, earthy leather, tobacco

Shiraz mouthfeel

Full bodied wine, firm tannins, dry, heavy oak

Shiraz cellaring potential

Australian Shiraz has a strong, overt fruit flavour which you most often find in young Shiraz. As Shiraz ages, these bright fruit flavours and strong tannin develop into more savoury, soft characteristics, adding complexity and smoother tannins. To age Shiraz, look for Shiraz made in regions such as Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale.

Facts about Shiraz

  • Syrah and Shiraz is the same grape! Known as Syrah in France (its country of origin) as well as in the rest of Europe and most of the United States, it is referred to as Shiraz in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada.
  • Shiraz is Australia’s favourite red variety, representing 40% of the total red grape crush and constituting one fifth of all wine grape production in Australia.
  • Until the mid 1900’s, Shiraz was grown purely for fortified wine production; its ability to get very ripe and its rich flavours made it perfect for fortified wines.
  • Shiraz reached its lowest point when the South Australian government implemented a vine pull scheme to replace old, low yielding Shiraz vines with the more fashionable Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. These vines turned out to be the vines where some of the best Shiraz wines were made from, and thankfully some growers resisted, giving us the iconic old block Shiraz styles that Australia is now renowned for.
  • Shiraz makes the most recognised Australian wines in the world market such as Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace amongst others.
  • Climate affects these with the warmer climates providing the plums and chocolate (Barossa) and the cooler climates giving more of the pepper (Victoria).
  • Shiraz was introduced to Australia in 1832 by James Busby, an immigrant who brought vine clippings from Europe with him

Australian regions that produce Shiraz

Margaret River 
With its warm maritime climate, the Margaret River region is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends. Although it can be hard to identify an Margaret River Shiraz blind, they do display great elegance and structure. Not as full or rich as the Barossa, but with intense spice, black cherry, cinnamon and raspberry flavours. The tannins are ripe and the wines usually have good length.

Hunter Valley
Shiraz from Hunter Valley can be complex and opulent, with plummy, earthy and leathery aromatics. On the palate the wines display concentrated earthy flavours, fruit sweetness, ripe tannins and good length. The Hunter has an ability to produce wines that can age remarkably well, especially Shiraz and Semillon.

Clare Valley
Clare Valley Shiraz is concentrated, but has more spice, cracked-pepper and anise aromas than the Barossa. They display ripe prune-like fruit with great structure and sometimes angular tannins

Barossa Valley
The Barossa is arguably the most important region in Australia for Shiraz, often described as “one glass wines” because of their power. Its warm climate, lush soils and sunlight create complex wines with aromas of plums, liquorice, chocolate and vanilla. On the palate the wines are fruit-driven, with massive concentration, ripe tannins and almost infinite length.

McLaren Vale 
Situated to the South of the Barossa, the warm climate of McLaren Vale creates wines are similar in texture to Barossa, but produce different flavours. McLaren Vale Shiraz produces wine with intense blackberry and liquorice aromas with hints of vanilla. The tannins are ripe and give good longevity to the wines.

What food to pair with Shiraz

Because of Shiraz’s high alcohol content, it can easily crush delicate dishes such as fish or salad, and is better suited to meals with heavy body like steaks and stews. The heavy tannins in Shiraz match the bitter nature of charred food, so Shiraz is a fantastic wine to pair with grilled steaks, grilled vegetables, and anything barbequed.  The “spiciness” of Shiraz is also a good match for the “gaminess” of red meats. This is especially true if the meat has a garlic and herb like sauce. Shiraz works nicely with pesto and also rich, creamy pasta sauces.

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