Whether in the Valleys of Hunter and Barossa, or newish outposts like Canberra, Australia has a rightful claim to Shiraz as its very own grape. Streaks ahead of other wine grape plantings and found in every Aussie region, it’s capable of an amazing diversity of styles. It classic calling cards are intense, richly fruited red wines, glass staining and purple-tinged with supple tannins. The French know this grape as Syrah, and its genesis is in the Northern Rhône valley where it takes a lead. Down in the Mediterranean south, it plays supporting actor with Grenache and a host of other friends.
Up north, look for names like Côte Rôtie, Saint Joseph, Hermitage and Cornas for fragrant, gravelly, lavender perfumed wines with notes of pepper, pungent black olives and barbecued meats.
If you’re south of the border, the pinnacles are in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Lirac, the great values in Côtes-du-Rhône and Ventoux.