Vino File: Australian shiraz

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Australia's been so successful at making shiraz, producers the world over are starting to jump on the bandwagon.

The grape varietal is known as "syrah" everywhere else in the world, but Australians christened it "shiraz" when they began growing it about 150 years ago. And the success of shiraz has led other producers to adopt the name for their own wines.

Donnie Austin, owner of House Wine in Worthington, thinks shiraz is great wine to stock up on in advance of fall. "I call them 'fireplace wines,' " Austin said. "Or they can be the fireplace, because of the alcohol level that'll warm you up."

The shiraz selections he's sharing are all from different sub-regions in South Australia - which produces half of the country's wine. Australian wines, perhaps including some of these, will be featured at House Wine's tasting starting at 6 tonight.

Redheads Studio Barrel Monkeys (2005)

Cost: $24

Region: McLaren Vale, Australia

Flavors: Full-bodied, with ripe berry and creamy, toasted vanilla tastes

Pairs well with: Beef prepared with a spice rub

Donnie Austin's advice: "What's interesting about this is they leave the grapes on longer, where they start to begin to shrivel. So there's more sugar, which turns into more alcohol and more intense flavors."

Small Gully The Formula (2004)

Cost: $17

Region: Barossa Valley, Australia

Flavors: Big berry flavors come across in a subtle way

Pairs well with: Lamb or beef

Donnie Austin's advice: "It's aged 36 months in oak, which is quite a long time, so that means the wine is built to stand up to that much oak and still taste good. It doesn't taste like wood."

Old Plains Raw Power (2006)

Cost: $14

Region: Adelaide Plains, Australia

Flavors: Robust berry notes combine with tobacco, tar and earthy flavors

Pairs well with: Heavy, hearty stew

Donnie Austin's advice: "It's kind of Northern Rhone meets Australia, where you get the full, in-your-face shiraz with a hint of tar and earth. It's kind of a mix of New and Old World."