The great grape of Australia, and arguably one of the most important, if not the finest in the world. Shiraz is the name used in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa for the noble Syrah varietal. Though Syrah hails from the Rhône valley in France, prticularly the AOCs of Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie, it has acheived a recent resurgence in many areas of the world due in large part to the success story that is Shiraz in Australia. Brought to the island continent in the 1830s, Shiraz played the second fiddle to Cabernet Sauvignon until well into the 20th century when the great wine Grange was created at the Penfolds winery. It was found that with older vines Shiraz could produce incredibly rich, ripe and opulent wines that were refined enough to consume young but tannic enough to age for years. While not exactly Syrah in style, Shiraz has become immensely popular with the U.S. market (in part fueled by the Aussie 2025 plan. For more on this check out our article on the Articles page) most notably with the masses of wine produced by Yellow Tail, Rosemount and Penfolds. These wines may not be world class, but they often represent value over their French or California counterparts in the same price range. Today Shiraz comes in all levels of quality, from light and slightly sweet wines that are best consumed young, to bold and brooding monsters that need decades to reach maturity.
The best examples of Shiraz come from the hot Barossa valley in southern Australia, though fine examples can be found from all along the southern coast of the continent. Shiraz has found some success in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa, though it is now just as often labeled as Syrah. Some excellent wines are coming from Martinborough on the north island and Marlborough on the south island of New Zealand, though cooler climate grapes such as Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc seem to be the future of these areas.