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Shiraz

Originally Australian and now widely used name for Syrah. Wines labelled Shiraz tend to taste richer, riper and more full-bodied than France's typical Syrah-based wines. Australia regained her pride in Shiraz, the country's most planted wine grape variety, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, having flirted with more recently imported Cabernet Sauvignon. Shiraz can taste of baked pencils in the Hunter Valley, chocolate in the Barossa Valley (arguably its spiritual home), and black pepper in cooler regions such as Macedon in Victoria. Very, very few Australian wine producers do not produce a Shiraz of some sort, and many make several qualities of Shiraz (including sparkling), as well as a range of Shiraz-Cabernet and Cabernet-Shiraz blends. Penfolds are arguably the past masters of Shiraz production, their Grange being Australia's very first serious 'collectable'. When it was first made, by the late Max Schubert after a trip to Bordeaux, it was dismissed as 'dry port tasting of crushed ants' by other Australian winemakers. In very general terms Shiraz tends to taste slightly sweet and can reach high alcohol levels. South African examples can taste rather earthy and hot. Australia can boast much richer stocks of ancient Shiraz/Syrah vines than France.