Sunshine in a bottle for everyone
Shiraz is the most planted grape variety in Australia, which, in turn, accounts for about one in four bottles sold in Ireland.
Australia made its name giving us sunshine in a bottle, and Shiraz, with its trademark peppery, black fruit, played its role in that, providing plenty of sweet and soft, if sometimes too jammy, wines. I'm not one for jammy styles, but there's an Australian Shiraz to suit every taste.
For my money, I prefer to seek out the firmer structure and greater flavour definition you are more likely to find with wines made by independent producers, than with a two-for-the-price-of-one-style bottle from a mega brand.
Oz Shiraz varies from region to region, depending on soil and microclimate.
In its warm Barossa Valley Australian heartland, Shiraz tends to be voluptuous, overflowing with dark chocolate flavours, compared with the more milky chocolate character of the neighbouring McLaren Vale.
In cooler regions such as the Yarra Valley and Adelaide Hills, the style is more restrained, with its classic peppery characteristic and more defined berry flavours to the fore. More in between would be Margaret River and Eden Valley, while the Hunter Valley is known for a leathery style.
Australian winemakers often do as they do in France's Northern Rhône and add a splash of peachy Viognier to give it a lift.
A decent Shiraz is great with red meat, from steak through to stews, goose and duck; the leaner styles are better for simpler dishes.
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