One of the most popular grapes in the world, Shiraz, which is also spelled Syrah (and is always pronounced "sir-rah") is a full-bodied grape that's used to make fruit-forward wines that typically have bold, jammy flavors. In Australia, where Shiraz is one of the most popular varietals, the warmer climate leads to wines with big fruit flavors, subtle notes of spice and earthy flavors, and plenty of tannins to stand up to decades in the wine cellar. In Rhone, France, and other cooler wine-growing regions, Shiraz tends to have softer flavors, and slightly less body, though these wines still have enough tannins that they age very well.
A good Shiraz should always have enough body to support the variety of flavors in these dark-purple grapes. Light-bodied Shiraz with simple red fruit flavors shows a flaw in the wine and unfortunately, many inexpensive Shiraz wines fall flat because of poor growing conditions or overly watery grapes. When looking for a good Shiraz, you'll want to choose a wine with a complex flavor profile that packs a huge punch of fresh fruit, whether it's fresh blackberry in a cool-climate wine or dark fruit jam in a warm-climate wine. The tannin should be big and bold in a young wine, though markedly softer in a wine that's been given time to age.
Best Shiraz Overall:
Since Shiraz holds up well to years, or even decades in the wine cellar, there are plenty of old bottles of this wine that sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Though many of these are some of the most incredible wines you'll ever drink, there's no need to spend more than $100 on an excellent bottle of Shiraz, and many wines in the $20 to $50 range will transform into expensive gems if you give them enough time in a climate controlled environment. We selected wines that range in price from $20 to $100 for our list of the best Shiraz, and focused on wines from recent vintages that are easier to find in local wine shops and online. Since these wines are on the young side, we've also given a recommendation on how long to hold onto each bottle before popping out the cork for a nice dinner at home. All the wines on this list have also scored in the 90s with professional wine critics and many have won prizes at international wine competitions.
Not just the best Shiraz, but the best red wine in California, Calcareous Syrah '10 is a remarkable wine. It's big and bold, with flavors of berry, mocha, and smoke, and aromas of plum and caramel. The tannins are on the soft side, making this wine incredibly drinkable now, even though it will benefit from at least another 6 years of aging. Read Full Review
Made of 100 percent Shiraz grown in the rich, loamy soil of South Australia's McLaren Vale, Mitolo "GAM" Shiraz '04 is one of the best Shiraz you can find. It's intensely flavorful, with lots of big berry flavors, as well as darker flavors of mocha and just a hint of vanilla. If you're looking for a younger wine to put away yourself for a few years, the '10 is also incredible. Read Full Review
Hailing from the Rhone Valley, Cornas Les Vieilles Vignes '11 is an excellent Shiraz that's much softer than many New World Shiraz. This wine is medium-bodied, with lots of berry on the nose, as well as a touch of spring flowers. It has flavors of big, juicy fruits and a little bit of black licorice. Since this is a softer wine with less tannin, it's ready to drink now, though it will continue to mature for the next decade. Read Full Review
A cool-weather Shiraz from the new world, L'Ecole No. 41 Columbia Valleu Syrah '10 is one of our Best Picks. This wine has lots of sweet fruit on the palate, an off-dry finish, and a bold, jammy nose that has made it a winner with renowned wine critics. It's ready to drink right away, though it will be at its best in early 2015. Read Full Review
For years Lagier Meredith Syrah has been one of the best Shiraz to come out of Northern California. The '11 is shaping up to be an incredible year, with wine nearly perfectly mimicking the softness of Shiraz grown in Rhone, France. This wine has perfumy flowers, smoke, and plum on the nose, and big juicy fruit flavors on the palate. Read Full Review
Best Shiraz under $20:
Shiraz is one of those wines that can be a real hit or miss. The grapes are soft and delicate like Pinot Noir, though they have big, bold flavors that need to be supported by enough tannins. Because of this, many inexpensive Shiraz can fall flat, overemphasizing the jammy flavors of the wine without backing it up with smooth, velvety tannins. Fortunately, it is possible to find an excellent Shiraz for less than $20, and we've assembled this list to help you pick out everyday wines that will impress. These wines are all popular with wine critics and casual wine drinkers alike, and all of them show off the best qualities of Shiraz, whether they're grown in warm or cool climates. They're also all from recent vintages that will be easy to find online or at local wine stores.
An Australian Shiraz with the soft nose of a Rhone wine, d'Arenberg The Footbold Shiraz '11 is our absolute favorite Shiraz for under $20. This wine is big and bold, with pronounced earthy qualities brought up from the vines' deep taproots. Since this wine is unfiltered, don't be surprised if there's more than a little sediment at the bottom. Be sure to decant before you serve! Read Full Review
For a soft, fruit forward Shiraz that's ready to drink right now, Robert Oatley Signature Series Shiraz '10 is an excellent choice. Grown in the cooler climate of the McLaren Vale, this wine is soft, with notes of blueberry, plum, and spice. It's spent 10 months aging in oak barrels before bottling, and has picked up a little bit of earthy complexity making this a well-rounded Shiraz with plenty of complexity. Read Full Review
Spain may be better known for producing high quality Garnacha, but the Shiraz that come out of this country are often well made and relatively inexpensive. Beso Devino Selection is our favorite Spanish Shiraz. It's rich and complex, thanks in part to blending it 85 percent to 15 percent Garnacha, and at around $10 a bottle, it's also one of the best deals out there. Read Full Review
Though it's from a warm appellation in Victoria, Australia, Taltarni T Series Shiraz '10 is a medium-bodied Shiraz that shows of the delicate complexity of the cool-weather style of this wine. It has lots of dark fruit on the nose and the palate, as well as a hint of spice that lends an extra dimension that's often lacking from inexpensive Shiraz. The wine is ready to drink right away, though it will still be at its peak for a couple of years. Read Full Review
Made by the same winemaker (and in the same barrels) as the high-end Australian Shiraz, GAM, Mitolo Jester Shiraz '11 is one of our favorite Shiraz for less than $20 a bottle. This wine has soft fruit notes of blueberry and cranberry, as well as a hint of spicy black pepper. It's excellent right now, with soft tannins that aren't overwhelming, and it will be even better in another year. Read Full Review