Food Suggestion: Beef and Venison
Wine Style: Red – Rich and Intense
Alcohol Content: 11 – 14%
Notes: A small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon is generally included in the blend.
Australia is an extremely important wine-producing country, both in terms of quality and the sheer scale of its wine economy. It ranks sixth in the world in wine production and has an annual total of 773 million liters, valued at 2.2 billion Australian dollars.
Australia has long been at the forefront of the New World wine renaissance, with a highly dedicated and professional industry based on research and development. Both Australia and the global wine industry have benefited from the technological advancements in wine-growing made by organizations such as the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). The country’s contribution to revolutionizing vineyard management practices is also impressive.
Australia, an iconic ‘New World’ wine nation ©Jonathan Reeve
Australia has developed a comprehensive appellation system, which complements its high production standards and the reputation of its wines. You can find more about the wine and labeling laws on our Australian wine label page.
The vast landscape of Australia, with its huge range of climatic and geographical conditions, makes it one of the most versatile wine-growing countries in the world. Overall, the climate is affected by its southerly latitude, but regional features such as altitude and proximity to the oceans also play a significant role. Wine is produced in all of Australia’s six states, but the vast majority is made in the southeast, in New South Wales, Victoria and particularly South Australia.
Australia’s wine portfolio is almost as complete as one can imagine, and includes cult wines based on its very own Shiraz, southern Rhone-style blends, classic fruit-forward aromatics led by Riesling from the Eden and Clare Valleys, highly acclaimed Chardonnay with or without barrel influence, unpretentious but delicious Hunter Valley Semillon, heavy and complex fortified and dessert wines, and world-class sparkling wines.
The country has also played a major role in the globalization of wine. Many of its brands have a strong international presence, as do its well-trained and well-qualified wine professionals, who have spread their expertise to many corners of the world.
Overall, Australia has a well-established and highly regarded wine industry, which has set new benchmarks in quality wine production. With continued technological advancements and individual endeavors, these standards are expected to achieve even greater heights.
Shiraz is the name given to the dark-skinned Syrah grape when grown in Australia and selected pockets of the New World. Though genetically identical, the stylistic differences between Shiraz and Syrah are pronounced enough to consider them distinct varieties. Shiraz is so important to Australian viticulture that it is the most planted grape variety in the majority of Australian vineyards and has become virtually synonymous with the country’s wine regions, and in particular the Barossa Valley.
The term Shiraz has its roots in the New World, although there is no one story about how it came to be named this. The prevailing style of Shiraz winemaking reflects its New World roots, though, tending toward bright fruit flavors – most frequently blueberries, blackcurrants and black cherries. Secondary notes of chocolate lend themselves well to the full-bodied texture of these wines, often accented by pepper and spicy inflections.
During the 1990s and early 2000s a lot of Australian Shiraz was characterized by highly extracted, super-ripe wines that, for better or worse, caught the attention of wine critics around the world. Some responded well to the style, championing the rich and bold flavors, while others lambasted the wines’ lack of subtlety. Regardless of the divided critics, consumer enthusiasm for Australian Shiraz flourished during this period and countless expressions of the style were exported around the world.
At the dawn of the 21st Century there was a tangible shift in the way a lot of Australian Shiraz was made, with cool-climate styles coming into their own and complexity gaining ground over sheer power. A new generation of wines began to emerge, working towards the elegantly spicy styles of the northern Rhone.
As with Syrah in the Rhone, Australian Shiraz is often blended with Grenache and Mourvedre, creating what has become widely known as GSM. The dark chocolate and cassis of Shiraz, coupled with the plummy richness of Grenache and the earthy, gamey strength of Mourvedre makes for a rich, opulent style often greater than the sum of its parts.
One uniquely Australian application of Shiraz is to blend it with Cabernet Sauvignon. This was a previously unheard-of tradition in the Old World, but the Cabernet – Shiraz blend has become so popular that it now represents a sizable proportion of Australian red wine blends. The other major Shiraz blend emulates the idiosyncratic wines of Cote Rotie by adding a small proportion of Viognier to the wine. Australian Shiraz – Viognier wines have forged a formidable reputation on the international stage; some of the best examples can fetch three-figure prices.
The name Shiraz has become so widely recognized and so highly marketable that it has been used to label Syrah wines in countries other than Australia. In South Africa, the Shiraz naming convention is commonplace and in the U.S., South America and Israel either Syrah or Shiraz may be used depending on fashion. Even a handful of producers in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon have taken to labeling their wines as Shiraz.
Synonyms include: Syrah, Hermitage, Scyras.
Food matches for Shiraz include:
- Beef Wellington
- Malay lamb korma
- Lentils with smoked ham hock
(sources : wine-searcher)