Shiraz is the powerhouse red from Australia. Made from the same grape as Syrah wines from around the world, Shiraz is spicy, jammy and lush. Fortunately, it's easy to find delicious Australian Shiraz wines for under $25.
Seductive Shiraz from Down Under
Shiraz is synonymous with the country-continent of Australia. Not that Shiraz is the only Aussie grape varietal; Cabernet Sauvignon, Sèmillon, and Chardonnay are big players as well. However, Shiraz put Australia on the wine map, and it permeates the wine shops in the four corners of the world. In a sense, Shiraz has become a marketing brand for low-cost Australian wine worldwide, much to the chagrin of this country's competitors. When Shiraz is at its best, the wines can be elegant and jammy red wines with spice and velvet guile that can seduce and make one go weak in the knees.
Shiraz's Best Wine Regions
Australia has seven primary wine regions that are fairly broad geographically. Within these regions you then chisel down to specific regions, and that's when it gets interesting. Regional climate affects the character style of Shiraz, from cooler regions producing subdued and peppery wines to hotter spots creating muscular and ripe reds. Many wineries blend Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Viognier to change the nuance and style of Shiraz. The two best regions to look for are Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Both are in the South Australia region and both produce Shiraz with the most complexity. Barossa Valley's Shiraz will likely be big and ripe, and McLaren Vale's are big-bodied with tones of chocolate. Down a notch but still exemplary are South Australia's Coonawarra with its peppery Shiraz, and New South Wale's Hunter Valley with its worthy Shiraz with smoke and leather characteristics.
A Shiraz List to Start
There are many Shirazes that are easy quaffing reds in the $10-$15 range that will satisfy, but the intrigue starts in the range from $15-$25. The following is a list of well distributed brands that are consistent in quality and taste.
Aussies For Your Consideration
- d'Arenberg: Shiraz, Footbolt, Laughing Magpie. $12-$20. So very Australian. d'Arenberg is in McLaren Vale and the winery takes on the usual Australian penchant for naming whimsy. The Footbolt is a straightforward and intense Shiraz from old vines that is a good value. The Laughing Magpie is blended with Viognier and the muscular Shiraz is tamed with a floral perfume and notes of stone fruit. This gives the wine a paradox of tough nose redness with softer finesse.
- Elderton Wines: Shiraz, Barossa Valley. Price: $25. Elderton is a highly rated winery in the Barossa. Their Estate Shiraz from the Barossa Valley is an enticing red with an aromatic nose, concentrated plum and berry flavors, smoky with chocolate, and graceful finish. Built to last but ready-to-go. Consistently well-received.
- Greg Norman Estates: Shiraz, Limestone Coast. Price: $15-$18. Norman's the name, golf is his game. But the Shark also loves wine and has put together an exceptional winery and team. His Limestone Coast Shiraz is a blend of Shiraz from the South Australia region, mostly from Padthaway and Coonawarra. They are consistently solid in structure with ripe plum-berry fruit and shows modest complexity. Norman's Shiraz drives fairly straight and true down the fairway with a slight draw that helps avoid traps.
- Hardys Wine Company: Shiraz-Tintara, Nottage Hill, Stamps. Price: $10-$20. Hardys has been around for 150 years and are widely available around world. Many are good across the price range and are flavorful and easy drinking, showing standard Shiraz fruit, spice, chocolate, and supple tannins. Tintara is a McLaren Vale wine is the best bet, produced from top vineyards in the region and is big, juicy, and balanced and if available should be in the $15-$20 range.
- McWilliam's Wines: Shiraz, Hanwood Estate. Prices: $12. McWilliams is in New South Wales which is not known for Shiraz necessarily. However, they don't have any furry or jumping animals on their label and their Hanwood Estate Shiraz is an extremely good value for a ripe berry and spicy Shiraz at around $12. True, their label doesn't have the kid appeal with a Penguin or Kangaroo but as I recall, wine is for adults, not kids.
- Penfolds: Shiraz, Bin 128 Coonawarra, Bin 28 Kalimna. Price: $16-$24. Sorry, no Grange at less than $25. Besides for the price of a Grange you can probably get a case of Penfolds' tasty and racy Bin 127 Coonawarra or Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz. Or, find the Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz that has the style of the Grange and is primarily a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz from the Barossa Valley and South Australia. Penfolds has multiple product lines and the bin numbers keep going higher. The Thomas Hyland range offers good value while the Rawson's Retreat group is targeted at the affordable everyday wine drinking range. Some of the Rawson blends work but they often disappoint and are off taste target.
- St. Hallett: Shiraz, Faith. Price: $22. St. Hallett is in the middle of Barossa Valley and their Shiraz showcases wines from this regions. Their Faith is lively with cherry fruit, spice, and a smooth finish with toasted oak.
- Torbreck Vintners: Shiraz, Woodcutter's. Price: $20. Torbreck has a bunch of winners in its wine lineup. Their Woodcutter's is a great deal at $20 if you can find it. The 2003 shows fruit forward character and blankets the taste buds with plum and cherries, chocolate, allspice, and giddiness.
- Yalumba: Shiraz, Barossa Shiraz-Viognier. Price: $18. Besides being fun to pronounce, South Australia's Yalumba has the distinction of being Australia's oldest family-owned winery for about 150 years. They have a lengthy list of product lines. The easiest to find is the "Y" series which are very good at the value-drinking range with vibrancy and character. However the Barossa line, especially the Shiraz-Viognier wine is a treat. This one throws you a curve with its floral nature layered on top of juicy dark cherry fruit aromas and flavors. Musky with spice, chocolate, and smooth tannins, this is a rich and polished Shiraz. Yalumba is independent and self-sufficient as well, they have their own nursery for growing rootstocks and cooperage for making their own barrels.
- Wynns Coonawarra Estate: Shiraz, Coonawarra. Price: $14. Wynns dominates the Coonawarra. Their Shiraz represents value and their Coonawarra is peppery and medium-bodied with raspberry and blackberry fruit. This exemplifies the cool climate Coonawarra Shiraz.
A Great Value
If you've not tried an Australian Shiraz, you are in for a treat. These wines remain affordable and offer tremendous value for the flavor payoff. Because of this, Australian Shiraz continues to excite critics and consumers alike with bold, high-value wines.