Wine: Coast to coast Shiraz
Shiraz wine is like the best of friends - big-hearted, generous and comforting. Known as Syrah in its native France, Shiraz, the sun worshipping grape variety, has spread quickly throughout the hotter countries of the New World and is championed in Australia.
Typically, it produces a wine with a blackberry fruitiness and a black pepper spiciness but the style varies from easy drinking to intensely flavoursome wines with tones of leather, smoke, tar and mint.
McLaren Vale, south of Adelaide, enjoys a Mediterranean-like climate with the cooling influence of the nearby sea, which lengthens the ripening period for more nuances of flavour.
Northeast of Adelaide, the Barossa Valley's hot continental climate produces powerful wines with chocolate and spice characteristics - the quintessential Australian style. The Frankland River, which is located 80km from Perth in Western Australia, enjoys a relatively cooler climate, producing ripe but elegant wines that show restraint.
1) Portrait Shiraz 2011, Peter Lehmann, Barossa 14.5pc
Mature bouquet of leather and earth. Delicious core of purple fruits sheathed in silky tannins and a grind of black pepper on the finish. Partner with a slow roasted leg of lamb marinated in yoghurt, mint and garlic.
€16.99 at The Vintry, Rathgar; McHugh's, Kilbarrack; Donnybrook Fair; Redmond's, Ranelagh and Holland's, Bray.
2) Treasures Shiraz 2012, Quarsia, McLaren Vale 14.5pc
Warmed earth and ripe black fruity aromas. Intense juicy and fleshy black fruits with an earthy terroir palate and a warming finish. Needs a rich and dark gamey dish - venison in a red wine sauce.
€13.59 (from €16.99) until July 31 at Curious Wines, Cork and Naas.
3) Bootstraps Old Vine Shiraz 2009, Barossa 13pc
Complex bouquet of leather and hot clay. Mellow plums and fruity cranberry palate delivered in an unusually medium-bodied wine from Barossa. Serve with a smoked bacon and white bean stew in a rich tomato sauce.
€14.99 in Dublin at McHugh's, Kilbarrack Road and Artane; Redmond's, Ranelagh; Red Island Wines, Skerries; Baggot Street Wines and mchughs.ie.
4) Yellow Label Shiraz 2012, Wolf Blass, South Australia 13.5pc
Chewy and chunky black fruity palate trimmed with leather. Restrained in a less-is-more, medium-bodied style with a peppery finish. Try with beef in a rich onion gravy and potato mash.
€14.99 widely available nationwide including Tesco, Dunnes Stores, SuperValu and O'Brien's.
5) Shiraz 2011, Alkoomi, Frankland River, Western Australia 14.5pc
Polished leather bouquet. Well-balanced with the alcohol submerged and hidden in the tarry black fruit which leaves an attractive graphite minerality. Serve with pan-fried steak and onions, deglazed with a little strong black tea.
€15.30 at winesdirect.ie and Wines Direct Shop, Mullingar.
6) Shiraz 2010, Shotfire, Thorn Clarke, Barossa 14.5pc
Complex wild berry, pencil shavings and menthol scents. Full-bodied and minty with mellow black fruits. Serve with steak strips tossed in a soy and barbecue sauce.
€27 at 1601 Off-licence, Kinsale; Egan's, Portlaoise and Martin's, Fairview.