With our pick of the best Shiraz wines from around the world, you’ll never go wrong with this popular, full-bodied red wine
Shiraz, also known as Syrah, is one of the most popular red wines out there. It’s named for the eponymous dark-skinned grape varietal which originated in southeast France. In fact, it was only in 1999 that research revealed the Shiraz to have descended from two grape varieties from the Savoie region of southeastern France, the Dureza and the Mondeuse Blanche. Today, Shiraz wines are produced all over the world, particularly in Australia and South Africa.
Syrah or Shiraz?
In the beginning, it was called Syrah. In the 18th century, it became a prominent grape variety in the Rhone valley in France, where it remains the main red grape variety to this day. The Scottish viticulturist, James Busby, who is regarded as the father of the Australian wine industry, took the first cuttings of Syrah to Australia in the 1830s. It was referred to as Scyras at that point. Eventually it came to be called Shiraz (was it the Australian accent?). So Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape.
However, in modern times, where the grape has travelled all over the New World, the names have come to embody different styles of winemaking. Syrah is used for wines made in cooler climates in a restrained style while Shiraz denotes a rich and exuberant expression and often hails from hotter regions. However, the lines are a bit blurred. For instance, some wines are being labelled Syrah in Australia, where it has always been called Shiraz. And in France, some growers are calling their wines Shiraz because they are making them in a New World style.
And, no, Shiraz is not related to the city in Iran with the same name or the historical wine produced around that city.
What to Expect?
Shiraz is a bold and fruity wine noted for its dark colour. It has a rich, tannic mouthfeel. Shiraz is known to have aromatic notes of pepper, chocolate, leather and licorice. The flavour profile can also include notes of berry, herbs and olives.
Where Does the Best Shiraz Wine Come From?
In France, it is the Rhone Valley. In Australia, prominent Shiraz-producing regions are the Barossa Valley, Hunter Valley and McLaren Vale. In the US, it’s California, Texas, Grand Valley in Colorado and Columbia Valley in Washington state. Other important regions are Chile, South Africa and Canada. New Zealand is a new entrant on the Shiraz wine scene. The climate and soil of the different regions have a huge impact on the final wine.
Penfolds Grange, South Australia
This iconic Australian wine began production with an experimental vintage in 1951. In 2001, it became a heritage-listed wine protected by the National Trust of South Australia. Arguably Australia’s most celebrated wine, the Penfolds Grange adopts a multi-vineyard, multi-district blending philosophy. Therefore, it cannot be pinned down to a particular vineyard, since the grapes are sourced from over a large area. Penfolds Grange is crafted utilising fully-ripe, intensely-flavoured and structured Shiraz grapes. 2021 marks the 70th anniversary since the Grange was first made.
The Standish Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia
The dry-grown, organically farmed Standish Single Vineyard Shiraz comes from the Laycock Family Vineyard at the western edge of the Barossa Valley and is a 100 percent Shiraz. The fruit is carefully hand selected and traditional vinification methods (including foot stomping!) are followed by maturation in new and older French oak barrels. Don’t be deceived by the minimalistic bottle though. The wine is full-bodied and characterised by intensely concentrated dark fruit flavours, fine chocolatey but vigorous tannins and integrated oak characters.
Henschke’s Hill of Grace Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia
Many consider this to be Australia’s greatest single-estate Shiraz and the vineyard has a venerable history going back 150 years. The evocative phrase ‘Hill of Grace’ is a translation of the German ‘Gnadenberg’, a region in Silesia, and is the name given to the pretty Lutheran church that overlooks the vineyard. Although other wines had been produced since the vineyard’s inception, it was only in 1958 that Cyril Henschke created the first Hill of Grace in 1958 from Shiraz grapes. The exceptional quality of the wine combined with the catchy name has managed to charm wine drinkers.
E. Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne, Rhone, France
The Guigal winery in the northern part of Rhone is known for its fine red wines. Some are made from blends of grape varieties but La Landonne, a vineyard-designated wine, is made from 100 percent Syrah, and is the most tannic of their top three wines. La Landonne has been produced since the 1978 vintage.
L’Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valley Syrah, USA
This Shiraz is believed to be one of the best to come out of a North American winery. It is believed that Washington state’s winegrowing region is ideal for maximising the full expression of the Syrah grape. This wine from L’Ecole is spicy, rich and complex, with soft tannins and bright acidity. It has aromas of blackberry, violet and licorice. The finish is “tangy, flavourful and persistent.”
Saronsberg Cellar Shiraz, Tulbagh Valley, South Africa
The Saronsberg Cellar’s first grape harvest was only in 2004, yet within a short time (in wine terms) it has made a name for itself, especially for its Shiraz wines. Tulbagh, flanked on all sides by mountains, is a valley with a unique topography and rare natural beauty. The terroir is especially suited for wine production. The cellar’s Shiraz wines include the Shiraz Rosé, Saronsberg Shiraz, Full Circle and Provenance Shiraz.
Sula Dindori Reserve Shiraz, Nashik, India
This fiery wine is one of the greatest to come out of Sula Vineyards. With smoky aromas and notes of vanilla, cherry, red fruit and hints of spices, it’s made with 85 percent Shiraz grapes and 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been aged for 10 to 12 months in American oak barrels. A bold wine needs to be paired with bold foods, and Sula suggests pairing the Dindori Reserve Shiraz with Rajasthani laal maas, chicken green curry, chargrilled and barbecued meats and pizza.
Grover Zampa’s La Reserve Syrah Grenache, Karnataka, India
Launched early this year, this is the first time a winery in India has produced this internationally popular blend. Grover Zampa’s La Reserve range is born of long-standing tradition and passion and the wines are made from a handpicked selection of some of their oldest Syrah and Grenache vines. The Syrah-Grenache wine has a dark-purple colour tone and is matured in French oak barrels. It delivers a blend of blackberry, pepper and floral aromas. The wine pairs well with barbecued and grilled red meats, stews, recipes with mushroom and pepper sauce. It also goes well with Indian dishes like lamb kebabs, mutton biryani and mildly spiced curries.