Shiraz V Syrah
So who is right?
If Sauvignon Blanc's fame can be attributed to New Zealand, then we must surely raise a glass to Australia for its role in putting Shiraz/Syrah on the wine map.
As you may have guessed by now, Shiraz and Syrah are made from the same grape. It's a variety which has been around since the times of the ancient Phoenicians (a civilisation based 3,000+ years ago in today's Lebanon), yet it was little known until the Australians virtually re-invented it!
Whether they comes from Australia or France, wines made from this grape have one definite thing in common: a deep purple colour. Also, the grape passes on to the wine a set of aromas which remind most of us of black pepper and chocolate.
Wines produced from this grape in France show a higher level of tannins than their Australian sibling. In the longer-lived examples, Syrah can be mouth-puckering when still young and will benefit by as much as a decade or more in bottle.
The style of a good deal of Australia's Shiraz is a heavy, very fruity wine with a degree of sweetness from its residual sugar, which makes the wines taste particularly mouth-filling and easy to pair with food.
Whilst delicious, these wines are best consumed young, or at most within a few years of their vintage. If you are looking for a good quality Shiraz, the safest bets are those coming from the Barossa Valley.