Shiraz is often referred to as Syrah outside Australia. It has its origins in France’s northern Rhône Valley, where it provides the backbone of the famous Hermitage, Cornas and Côte-Rôtie wines. Shiraz has relatively loose bunches, with large thick-skinned berries and is marked by its spicy, black fruit flavours and smooth tannins. Shiraz arrived in Australia as part of the Busby collection in 1832. Due to its suitability to hot, dry climates, it thrived in many Australian regions, and consequently grew in popularity. Although first planted in Sydney and the Hunter Valley, the Barossa Valley has become Shiraz’s spiritual home in Australia and this region has some of the oldest vines in the world.
Shiraz is widely perceived as Australia’s premier grape variety and although we have produced many excellent examples of wines made from other grapes, Shiraz is the one that has captured the imagination of wine lovers and experts the world over. The vast array of regions, soil types and Australian microclimates produces a broad range of expressions and styles.
The Barossa and McLaren Vale regions of South Australia are the most famous, possibly due to highly prized old vineyards producing intensely flavoured, rich and earthy red wines. The Hunter Valley has a long history with Shiraz, while Victoria combines some proven historic regions like the Grampians with newer, rising stars like Heathcote. If Shiraz grapes are picked late, they will often shrivel, become raisin-like and produce concentrated, dried fruit flavours. The big flavours of Australian Shiraz are suited to American oak, although a recent trend has seen a move to French oak, particularly in cooler regions.
Barossa Valley Shiraz
The Barossa Valley is Australia’s premier Shiraz region and is the home of some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world. The Barossa is responsible for some of Australia’s finest Shiraz from both small and large producers. Barossa Shiraz typically shows plum, cherry and blackberry flavours with savoury tannins.
McLaren Vale Shiraz
McLaren Vale produces full-bodied, full-flavoured Shiraz, usually with high colour, high alcohol and dark fruit flavours backed by layers of licorice, spice and violet characters and soft tannins.
Coonawarra Shiraz is medium bodied and ripe with smoky cherries, spicy undertones and dusty dark berry aromas and flavours.
Clare Valley Shiraz
The Clare Valley produces deep and distinctive Shiraz with a tight, concentrated structure. Expect red currants, blackberries and fine tannins.
Grampians and Great Western Shiraz
The Grampians has a long history of making sturdy, structured wines with intense, spicy palates. The Grampians has also been a great source for some of Australia’s greatest Sparkling Shiraz. Great Western has also been the source of some intensely flavoured, long-lived Shiraz.
Heathcote Shiraz is stylistically very different to elsewhere in Australia with black cherry, prune and chocolate characters. It also has high levels of alcohol, usually with high levels of oak to match the intense fruit flavours.
Hunter Valley Shiraz
Hunter Shiraz is generally medium bodied, with fragrant, earthy aromas, cherry, berry characters, layers of violets and savoury, dusty plums backed by fine, soft tannins.
Canberra’s hot days and cool nights produce intensely flavoured, spicy Shiraz with high levels of natural acidity giving great flavour length. Canberra Shiraz often benefits from the co-fermentation of a small portion, around 5%, of Viognier.
Mt Barker Shiraz
Mt Barker is building a tradition of high quality, concentrated, medium-bodied Shiraz with layers of white pepper, spice and darkberried fruit.