is widely used to make a dry red table wine
. It is often vinified on its own, but is also frequently blended with other grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Viognier. It is grown in many wine producing regions around the world, with concentrations in Australia, The Rhone Valley in France, and America. It is often used as a blending grape in Spain and Italy as well.
Recently, Australian Shiraz producers have started to add up to 4% Viognier to their Shiraz to add apricot tones to the wine's nose and palette. With such a small percentage added, the producer wasn't obliged to declare the blend on the label. In the past 5 years however, it's becoming increasingly fashionable to label the wine Shiraz Viognier as Viognier gains consumer acceptance in the market place. The practise of blending Viognier with Syrah has actually been common for years in the Northern Rhône Valley region of Cote-Rotie.
Many premium Shiraz-based wines are at their best after some considerable time aged in a cellar (10-15 years). There is also a small amount of rosé wine produced from the Syrah grape. Before the popularity of Australian Shiraz wine it was very often used to make port. A number of Australian winemakers also make a full-bodied sparkling dry shiraz, that contains the complexity and sometimes earthy notes that are normally found in still wine.shiraz wine bottle
Wines made from Shiraz are often quite powerfully flavoured and full-bodied. The variety produces wines with a wide range of flavor notes, depending on the climate and soils where it is grown, as well as other viticultural practices chosen. Aroma characters can range from violets to berries, chocolate, espresso and black pepper. No one aroma can be called "typical" though blackberry and pepper are often noticed. With time in the bottle these "primary" notes are moderated and then supplemented with earthy or savory "tertiary" notes such as leather and truffle. "Secondary" flavor and aroma notes are those associated with several things, including winemakers' practices (such as oak barrel and yeast regimes), and terroir (the impact made by the soil, weather, and aspect where the grapes are grown).
The Shiraz grape was introduced into Australia in 1832 by James Busby, an immigrant who brought vine clippings from Europe with him. Today it is Australia's most popular red grape, but has not always been in such favor; in the 1970s, white wine was so popular that growers were ripping out unprofitable Shiraz and Grenache vineyards, even those with very old vines. Many factors, including the success of brands like Lindemans and Jacob's Creek in the UK, as well as Rosemount in the US, were responsible for a dramatic expansion of plantings during the 1980s and 1990s; a similar trajectory occurred in California. However, the biggest factor in this expansion during the 1990s was a federal government tax subsidy to those planting new vineyards.
South Australian regions tend to be the most highly regarded for Shiraz in Australia. Regions such as the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and the Clare Valley have consistently produced some of the country's best Shiraz for several decades. These regions tend to produce very full bodied, high alcohol wines (between 13.5 and 16%).
Notable Victorian regions include Heathcote, roughly 1.5 hours north of Melbourne. Cooler climate regions such as Western Australia's Margaret River produce Shiraz with marginally less alcohol content and often in a more traditional French style.
The most famous, and possible best, example of the Shiraz grape in Australian viticulture and indeed one of the finest wines in the world, is the Penfolds, "Grange". This wine was created by winemaker
Max Schubert in 1951, and has proved in vertical tastings to age exceptionally well. The Penfolds Grange is predominantly Shiraz, but often includes a small quantity of Cabernet Sauvignon. There was also a rare one off Bin 9 Grange Cabernet Sauvignon created in 1953. It is usually a multi-regional blend of the finest Shiraz in South Australia, with the Barossa Valley playing an important role. It is always matured exclusively in new American Oak. Other great Australian Shiraz wines include, the Henschke "Hill of Grace" and the Penfolds "RWT".