Leading wine critic Huon Hooke picks 10 of his top Australian Shiraz wines, ideal for Rhône lovers...

At least 25 Australian wine regions produce excellent Shiraz. From Queensland’s Granite Belt to Tasmania’s Tamar Valley; from the Hunter Valley to Western Australia’s Swan Valley; no other country offers such a range of Shiraz from a variety of terroirs. Yet people still generalise about Australian Shiraz as a blockbuster wine: unsubtle, super-ripe, high alcohol and jammy. This is a mistake.

Increasingly, mid-bodied, elegant Shiraz – often labelled Syrah – is being made in cooler climates: southerly locations like the Yarra Valley, Geelong, Mornington Peninsula and Tasmania, or higher-altitude places such as Orange, Canberra District and the Granite Belt. The alcohols are a far cry from stereotypical body-slammers.

Australia’s most famous wine-show trophy, the Jimmy Watson (for the best one- or two-year-old red) has been won in recent years by a Tasmanian Shiraz (Glaetzer-Dixon’s Mon Père 2010), a Grampians (Best’s Great Western Bin No1 2011 – I’ve picked the 2013 here) and one from the Adelaide Hills that also makes my list (SC Pannell 2013), all cast in a lighter, more elegant, spicier, modern Australian Shiraz mould that has more in common with northern Rhône than Barossa or McLaren Vale.

Top 10 Australian Shiraz

Often, they are partly whole-bunch fermented, the stems adding aromatic lift and extra detail. Another way of adding more complexity, refinement and fragrance to cool-climate Australian Shiraz is with a bit of co-fermented Viognier – a deliberate homage to Côte-Rôtie.

Not quite as elevated or cool as the Yarra or Canberra is the Adelaide Hills, but this region is turning heads with finer, more detailed Australian Shiraz wines than the surrounding hotter, lower-altitude South Australian regions such as Barossa and McLaren Vale. Neither should we overlook Coonawarra.

Of recent vintages, 2013 was a top year in Canberra, and an excellent vintage across Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. While the rain-sodden 2011 was fraught throughout eastern Australia’s cooler regions, 2010 and 2012 are both very good, ripe years. In South Australia and southern Victoria, 2012 was cooler and the wines are most likely to be elegant Syrah styles.