If you're after a good, affordable shiraz then here are my top 10

I must admit I get a frisson of excitement when I open a bottle of rosé wine despite there being a thick layer of snow on the ground outside.

Yves Cuilleron makes precise, elegant wines.

A glass of pale pink rosé seems to foretell the upcoming spring and, while my daffodils are still trying to overcome the chill of winter, there will soon be a time when the garden doors remain open and a rosé is the perfect choice for sunshine drinking.

But despite enjoying a bottle or two of rosé wine this week, I have been mainly heading to the red end of my wine rack and in particular, Syrah.

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There is something I love about the dark, red fruit aromas of Syrah, the hint of spice and the way the flavours sit alongside casseroles, roasts or even a plate of cheese without missing a beat.

Craggy Range estate in New Zealand, home to some excellent Syrah.

But first of all is it Syrah or Shiraz? It all depends on the whims of the winemaker and the preferences of the customer. It is rather like my two year-old Canadian granddaughter who is being encouraged to speak two languages – Canadian English and English English. When talking about the salad ingredients on her plate she will use “toe-may-toe” when speaking to her mother, while her father is treated to the English version, “toe-mah-toe”.

While there are differences between wines, there is nothing in the grapes themselves that distinguishes between an Australian Shiraz and a Rhône Syrah. The only variables that create different tastes are the usual factors of location, climate, soil and winemaking.

Generally you will find the Syrah grape called Shiraz in Australia while the rest of the world calls it Syrah, but because of the style of Shiraz versus Syrah, there is some crossover of the names depending on the taste of the wine. I like to think of this grape as two distinct personalities.

While Shiraz is the chap you might find leaning up against a bar in the local pub, somewhat loud, brash and full of character, you will find Syrah dining in a restaurant, still with bags of personality, but he takes some time to get to know. Winemakers around the world decide whether their wine is the guy in the bar or the one in the restaurant depending on the style of the wine they have made. I like both, depending on my mood and the occasion.

The whole origin of the Shiraz/Syrah grape has taken some time to unravel. At one time it was thought to be connected to the city of Shiraz in Iran, or even Syracuse in Sicily but now it has been traced to a cross between two French grapes, Mondeuse Blanche and Dureza, with Pinot Noir and Viognier as close relatives.

It settled into the Rhône valley, becoming the only red grape grown in the Northern Rhône, and from there it has spread around the world, particularly to Australia where there are some very old specimens still managing to produce a crop after 100 years or more.

This is a vine that appreciates sunshine and warm weather for ripening but too much heat will cause it to become overripe and stewed. It loves the heat of Barossa, in Australia, the south facing vineyards of the Rhône, but it also appreciates a cool breeze to keep those aromatics.

Here are 10 of my favourite Syrah and Shiraz wines from around the world... But first put a casserole in the oven to provide the best flavours combination.

Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2019, South Africa, Sainsbury’s, £7.50: This wine is regularly on offer, but even at its full price it is an absolute bargain. Full of robust bramble and black cherry fruit, layered with spice and black pepper. Good for winter drinking and in summer you can team it with a barbecue.

The Best Margaret River Shiraz 2018, Western Australia, Morrisons, £7.50: This wine combines the depth and red fruits of good Shiraz with a fresh, clean mid-palate. Try it with meaty pasta.

Yalumba Galway Barossa Shiraz 2017, Australia, Waitrose, £12.49, down to £8.99 until Tuesday: Named after a former governor of South Australia, this is a powerful wine packed with mulberry and coffee notes. A toe-warmer for winter evenings.

Journey’s End Identity Shiraz 2020, South Africa, Sainsbury’s, £9: An easy drinking wine with soft, exuberant red fruits and a touch of spice.

Jim Barry The Lodge Shiraz 2017, Clare Valley, Australia, Co-op, £10: From a fairly cool part of Australia, this is a raspberry-edged wine with pepper and spice and a clean, fresh, roast beef-friendly finish.

The Francophile Syrah, Liberator, 2018, Harrogate Fine Wines, £10.99: This comes from young vines on one of South Africa’s top estates. Full of red fruits, it is lively and very drinkable.

D’Arenberg Footbolt 2017, McLaren Vale, Australia, Tesco, £12: Over a century ago, the d’Arenberg winery was founded on the strength of winnings from a horse called Footbolt. This is 100 per cent Shiraz made in traditional open-top fermenters, and it nods towards the Rhône’s St Joseph with its dark red fruits layered with liquorice and aniseed.

Cuilleron Les Vignes D’à Côtes 2018 Syrah, IGP Collines Rhodaniennes, Harrogate Fine Wines, £14.50: From one of the most meticulous growers in the Rhône, this is a precise, well-defined wine with ripe dark fruits, in particular blackberry notes with firm acidity and balance. There is a layer of savoury spice that lasts on the palate.

Vidal Reserve Syrah 2017, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, Field & Fawcett, £15.30: This comes from a warm part of New Zealand on the east coast of North Island where the land is protected by a ring of hills and there is a breeze coming off the sea. It has restrained, elegant black cherry fruit with soft tannins and a streak of white pepper.

Craggy Range Syrah 2018, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, Waitrose, £21.99: Another startlingly good wine from Hawkes Bay. Bigger and more substantial than its neighbour Vidal, with warm vanilla notes adding an extra dimension to the blueberry and black pepper flavours.