Thursday, 5 April 2012

Wine of the week #26: Shiraz (Australia/Red)

Hi all,

If you don't have snow this weekend, you need to get your BBQ season kicked off. To accompany this, what better than a good ol' Aussie Shiraz? I tried 4 wines between £4.29 and £9.99 this week. And the close winner on value is:

It is
A dry red wine made from Shiraz (aka Syrah) from Australia.

You can expect
Appearance: deep ruby colour
Nose: oaky aromas (vanilla), red berries (redcurrants) and hints of dark chocolate
Palate: rich but with a very soft texture, this wine has youthful flavours of fresh red fruits (redcurrants) and spices (hints of black pepper), and is not as heavyweight as Shiraz can often be. Pleasantly low but firm tannins.
Score: 14/20 (taking price into account)


You'll like it with you like: Rioja, redcurrants, spicy wines, powerful reds, Cotes du Rhone wines.

Have it with:
On its own (this one only).
Any red meat or sausages on a BBQ or roast lamb

Find it:
1) Sainsbury's - Redbridge Creek £5.49 - Excellent value for money. Surprisingly good for an own label.
2) Laithwaites - Patronus - £8.99 - Less oak but more body and concentration. Heady, juicy cassis fruit and fine-grained tannins. Serious stuff from the Barossa valley. 12/20
3) Aldi - Kooliburra Reserve - £4.29 - Unpretentious juicy quaff full of eucalyptus & red berries (redcurrant). Excellent value. 11/20
4) Sainsbury's - McGuigan Estate - £4.99 (half price) - Elegant nose but a bit thin texture and a poor finish with very green tannins. A true disappointment. Just about worth the half price!

This week's line up: best to poorest value
(from right to left)

Did you know?
> Shiraz is not from Australia. The grape originates from France and more precisely the Cotes du Rhone where it's called Syrah.

> The Syrah grape is the result of the crossing of Mondeuse Blanche and Dureza.

> Some believe that Syrah was actually imported from the town of Shiraz in Iran, where they produced fine wines in the 9th Century already (although mainly whites). This could explain why the grape was rebaptised Shiraz in Australia.

> Australian Shiraz tend to be slightly sweeter, riper and more chocolatey than the Rhone wines but it's worth giving a try to Cotes du Rhone. Click here for a very elegant example from St Joseph.

> Shiraz is, with no surprise, the most planted grape in Australia with more than 440,000 tonnes produced (a quarter of all grapes produced).

> In 2010, Australian wines were leading the UK sales board with every 5th bottle of wine sold in the UK being from Australian. 

> 4 of the top 10 wine brand in the UK are from Australia: Banrock Station, Hardy's, Jacob's Creek & Lindeman's. Ironically enough, none of these brands is actually managed by Australian companies but French or American.

> Due to the looser appellation system, a wine from 'South Australia' could be made from anywhere in the biggest winemaking area in the world i.e. more than a 1/3 of the Australian wine-making area. Unfortunately, the UK is not usually blessed with the better ones so most wines stating South Australia can be hit or miss. The best areas for Shiraz are the traditional Barossa or Hunter valley.



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