Finessed Old World Style Syrah From California’s Sonoma Coast

Today’s Story: Radio-Coteau

Radio-Coteau is somewhat of a cult winery (though not in the sense many people use the term nowadays) established by winemaker Eric Sussman in 2002. Though the winery is situated in Sebastopol and Eric owns a ridgetop estate vineyard above the town of Occidental, he also sources fruit from vineyards throughout the cooler climates of the northern coast within western Sonoma County and Anderson Valley. Eric brings his impressive history with wine to Radio-Coteau, one that includes stints in Washington’s Yakima Valley, the 1995 vintage in Pauillac on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, and the 1996 vintage in Burgundy at Domaine Comte Armand of Pommard and Domaine Jacques Prieur of Meursault. It was in France when Eric first heard the term “radio-coteau,” which means “word of mouth” or literally “broadcasting from the hillside.” Coupled with his flair for Old World style wines, Eric named his winery after this phrase to signify both a tight-knit community mindset as well as his wines being a true representation of the terroir. Working extensively with organic and biodynamic viticulture in well-drained and marine soils, Eric produces refined examples of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel.

For more on Radio-Coteau, I suggest visiting the extensive website here. There are some very interactive maps of the vineyards, and fantastic photos that also show the livestock and gardens living on the estate site.

Today’s Wine: 2011 Las Colinas Syrah

100% Syrah; 13.3% ABV

The 2011 Las Colinas Syrah is opaque medium purple in color. This was firing on all cylinders as a pop-and-pour, so I simply let it evolve in the glass in lieu of decanting. The aromas leap out of the glass with pronounced intensity, offering up red plum, cherry, blackberry, dried violet, cigar box, licorice, gamey meat, dried underbrush, smoke, scorched earth, and clove. Meanwhile the palate is equally intense with notes of black plum, black cherry, blueberry, violet, tobacco, dried herbs, slate, black pepper, chalky mineral, mild chocolate, and baking spice. This dry Sonoma Coast Syrah is medium- to full-bodied with medium acidity, medium but refined tannins, medium alcohol, and a long finish. This is as Old World as it gets for California, and is certainly one of the most elegant Cali Syrah’s I’ve had to date. 330 cases produced.

Price: $50. I think I’m on a value streak lately because this Syrah is absolutely worth its price and can even strike up there with high-quality Northern Rhône bottlings. This is perhaps the most elegant and finessed California Syrah I’ve tasted for the price-point and is deliciously chuggable. Well done.

Apparently Unicorns Do Exist in Australia

Today’s Story: Sami-Odi

Sami-Odi is a small but highly regarded winery established in the Barossa Valley of Australia by Fraser McKinley in 2006. Working exclusively with Syrah/Shiraz from the Hoffmann family’s esteemed Dallwitz Vineyard, McKinley farms his rows of often very old vines (some dating back to the 1880s) adhering to organic viticulture. He also picks earlier than most around him, based largely on his high level of importance placed on acidity. Sami-Odi produces two wines each vintage with blending the name of the game, one of them being a vintage bottling assembled from fruit of varying vine age and blocks, with the other being a non-vintage assemblage of various blocks, vine age, and vintage. The Sami-Odi wines are a result of traditional winemaking, with manual work prevalent alongside whole-cluster fermentation and no additions save for a minimal amount of sulfur. Aging occurs in neutral oak, and bottling is gravity-fed with the wines always unfined and unfiltered.

Today’s Story: NV Little Wine #9

100% Syrah (yes, Fraser calls it Syrah and not Shiraz); 14.1% ABV

The NV Little Wine #9 is opaque deep purple in color. This is an assemblage of 42% 2019 vintage, 37% 2018, 13% 2017, 4% 2016, and 4% 2015 so I decanted it for about 5 hours due to the youthful tilt. The nose is elegantly perfumed and an absolute showstopper, offering up with pronounced intensity aromas of black plum, blueberry, blackberry, crushed violets, licorice, worn leather, a hint of smoked game, tobacco, freshly-sharpened lead pencil, subtle dried earth, and mild baking spice. Meanwhile the palate is also of pronounced intensity, showcasing notes of rich black plum, blackberry, ripe blueberry, blue and purple florals, tobacco, eucalyptus, cracked green peppercorn, black tea, clove, and a hint of smoke. This dry red is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but fine-grained tannins, and a long, lingering finish. What’s amazing is how concentrated and powerful the wine is, but at the same time it is incredibly restrained and just downright beautiful. 537 cases produced.

Fruit sourced from vines planted in 1996, 1995, 1960, 1927, and prior to 1912.

Price: $100. To be honest, I am incredibly lucky to have purchased this bottle in the USA. I’ve been tracking down some Sami-Odi for about a year now, and I think it lives up to the hype. This is an awesome and outrageously complex Aussie Syrah well worth the price-point. If you’re fortunate enough to find some, buy it.

Entry Level to a Northern Rhône God

Today’s Story: Domaine Jean-Louis Chave

Domaine Jean-Louis Chave is one of, if not the most, highly regarded northern Rhône domains and it was established by the Chave family in 1481. Still family-owned and operated to this day, Domaine JL Chave produces arguably some of the greatest Hermitage and Saint-Joseph wines on the market. Though initially winemakers in the Saint-Joseph appellation, the Chave family started buying vineyards in the Hermitage appellation during the mid-1800s and moved there entirely by the end of the 19th century as phylloxera ravaged their vineyards in Saint-Joseph. The domain revitalized these holdings, however, during the early 1990s when 16th generation Jean-Louis joined his father Gérard and replanted the vineyards there. Today, the domain is one of the largest landowners on the Hill of Hermitage with about 14.5 hectares planted to vine, though the Saint-Joseph bottlings are nothing to snooze over.

Jean-Louis and Gérard are staunch traditionalists from the way they farm their vineyards to the way they make their wines. In the vineyards this means unyielding attention to detail, very small yields, and full ripeness. In the cellar, they typically destem the grapes before fermentation in stainless steel, cement vats, or old open-top French barrels then age the wines for around 18 months in minimal new oak. The entire process is minimally invasive and all wines are bottled unfiltered following blending.

With this in mind, however, their skill is seemingly most appreciated in the way that they blend the wines into the final Hermitage bottling. The domain never bottles single-vineyard wines, even though they own 14 different parcels across 9 vineyards and the quality of these individual vineyards or lieux dits can be immaculate. Instead, Jean-Louis and Gérard start every vintage from “scratch” and vinify every lot separately before blending them together into the final wine. Each vintage the percentage from each lot will vary, and each vintage the wines will show a unique charm. The Hermitage bottling is 100% Syrah, which is planted on about 10 hectares of the Chave family’s total 14.5. Chave also produces an Hermitage Blanc made of 80-85% Marsanne and 15-20% Roussanne, with the fruit sourced from the remaining 4.5 hectares or so. Tying into today’s post, Chave also makes a Saint-Joseph bottling from their vines in that appellation and it is 100% Syrah.

At the end of the day, when you see a bottle with the name Jean-Louis Chave on it you can expect a concentrated, elegant, finessed, and complex wine built for the ages. The Chave Hermitage typically needs 15 years to really start coming together in the bottle, though this depends on vintage and the great ones can go for 50+ years. Expect to pay around $80 for the Saint-Joseph, $250-300+ for the Hermitage Blanc, $350-400+ for the Hermitage Rouge, or $5,000-10,000+ for the ultra-rare Cuvée Cathelin which has been produced only a handful of times in miniscule quantities from the greatest vintages.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Saint-Joseph

100% Syrah; 14.5% ABV

The 2017 Saint-Joseph is opaque deep purple in color, clearly demonstrating its youth. I decanted this for two hours and drank it over the following two hours, which at this stage is quite advantageous. Aromas are of medium intensity with black plum, blackberry, blueberry, black cherry, licorice, violet, black pepper, smoke, chocolate, and cedar. Meanwhile on the palate I get medium (+) intensity with notes of blackberry, black plum, blueberry, black raspberry, anise, sweet tobacco, rocky earth, dried green herbs, black pepper, clove, charred cedar, and smoke. I am quite honestly surprised how much depth there is here at such a young age. This dry red is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish. Given several more years to better integrate the tannins and alcohol, I think this will be a rockstar.

Price: $80. I’ve had several vintages of this wine (fortunately some older than this bottle) but the one constant that remains is that I believe this is a very solid value. Given some time to age, these become beautifully balanced wines that showcase their terroir with remarkable depth and complexity. Plus they’re a great “middle-ground” in the Chave portfolio! If you include his JL Chave Sélection négociant wines, that is…

Ooh La La

Today’s Story: E. Guigal

I previously wrote about Guigal when I reviewed the 2004 Côte-Rôtie ‘La Turque’ this past February, and I am returning to review the same wine from a younger vintage today.

Guigal was established in 1946 by Etienne Guigal in Ampuis, a small village in the Côte-Rôtie appellation of the northern Rhône region in France. Etienne arrived in Côte-Rôtie at the age of 14 in 1924, and early in his career he helped develop Vidal-Fleury for 15 years before starting his namesake venture. His son, Marcel Guigal, took over management of the Guigal domain in 1961 when Etienne was struck with temporary but total blindness, and Marcel was joined by his wife Bernadette in 1973. As Marcel and Bernadette worked tirelessly to expand the family business (namely by purchasing Vidal-Fleury in the early 1980s and Château d’Ampuis in 1995), their son Philippe (born 1975) grew amongst the vines with expectations of one day joining the domain. Today, Philippe serves as Guigal’s oenologist alongside his wife Eve and the two strive to produce the greatest wines of the Rhône Valley.

Guigal has experienced significant expansion since their first acquisitions in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly in 2001 when they purchased the domains Jean-Louis Grippat and de Vallouit to not only strengthen their stature in Côte-Rôtie but expand into the Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, and Crozes-Hermitage appellations. In 2003, Guigal started producing their own wine barrels to not only learn more about the entire wine production process but control another facet of their business. Guigal expanded yet again in 2006 by purchasing Domaine de Bonserine, and made strides in 2017 by purchasing Château de Nalys in Châteauneuf-du-Pape to establish a foothold in southern Rhône.

Today’s Wine: 2011 Côte-Rôtie ‘La Turque’

93% Syrah, 7% Viognier; 13% ABV

The 2011 La Turque is translucent deep ruby in color. I decanted this for 4-6 hours and it does need more time in the cellar (I’d say 5-7 years or so), but it’s very hard to resist right now. The nose showcases aromas of black cherry, blackberry, plum, bacon fat, maple syrup, smoked game, black olive, cracked black pepper, clove, vanilla, coffee grounds, and oak. Meanwhile the palate displays notes of blueberry, blackberry, plum, black cherry, smoke, barbecue braised beef, bacon fat, toffee, mocha, gravel, and lightly charred oak. This is medium- to full-bodied with high acidity, fine-grained but high tannins, and a very long finish.

Price: $400 average online (I paid $325). At this price point I find it difficult to call any wine a “great value,” however I think this La Turque is absolutely worth its price. I will certainly try to buy more if I come across it again.

Surprising and Fun Ruby “Port” From Calistoga

Today’s Story: Chateau Montelena

I previously wrote about Chateau Montelena with the 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, my first post on this website, and then with the 2009 Chardonnay early this year. I figured it would be fun to return to Montelena today with a unique and special bottling.

Chateau Montelena traces its roots back to 1882 when Alfred L. Tubbs purchased 254 acres of rugged land with the dream of turning it into vineyards. Tubbs first planted his vineyards before constructing the chateau in 1886 and bringing in a winemaker from France, and by 1896 the A.L. Tubbs Winery was the seventh-largest in the Napa Valley. This prowess was short-lived, however, when winemaking shut down during Prohibition. With its repeal in 1933, Alfred’s grandson Chapin Tubbs continued harvesting the vineyards to make some wine and started selling fruit to others. He rechristened the winery to Chateau Montelena Winery in 1940 with the name derived from a contraction of Mount St. Helena.

In 1947, Chapin unfortunately passed away and winemaking at Chateau Montelena ceased again two years later. The Tubbs family sold this magnificent estate in 1958 to Yort and Jeanie Frank, a couple who emigrated from Hong Kong after WWII and were then seeking a peaceful place to retire. The Franks did not resume winemaking but rather worked to transform some of the overgrown grounds into a lake and landscaping reminiscent of their native gardens back home. Jade Lake on the property still provides evidence of this today and remains a beautiful and peaceful sanctuary.

The renaissance of this great winemaking estate, however, came about in the early 1970s under the leadership of Jim Barrett. Barrett quickly cleared and replanted the vineyards and brought in modern winemaking equipment alongside a team to oversee the vineyards and production. In 1972, winemaking resumed at Chateau Montelena and within years it would become one of the most important wineries in all of California and at that time even throughout the world. Chateau Montelena today thrives under the watchful eyes of Jim’s son, Bo Barrett.

Arguably the most important event in Chateau Montelena’s history occurred in 1976, though halfway around the world in France. Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant, sought to put the best Californian wines head to head with the best French wines and assembled the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 (known as the Judgment of Paris). There were an assortment of red wines and an assortment of white wines, with the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay being one of six Californian whites going against four greats from France’s Burgundy region. The 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay beat all of the other white wines in a blind tasting and shocked not only the panel and those in attendance but the entire world, cementing California as a winemaking region demanding respect. Funny enough, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars also in Napa Valley won for the red wines with their 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you’d like something a bit more “fun” to learn about Chateau Montelena, watch the movie Bottle Shock starring Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, and Chris Pine.

Today’s Wine: Twenty Year Ruby

100% Syrah; 20.3% ABV

The Twenty Year Ruby is translucent medium ruby to deep garnet in color. The nose is rather beautiful and surprisingly complex, showcasing aromas of bing cherry, raspberry liquor, strawberry shortcake, licorice, spice cake, chocolate, hazelnut, almond, baking spice, and vanilla. Meanwhile the palate offers equal depth with notes of orange peel, cranberry, red plum, red licorice, fig, anise, caramel, mint, chocolate, and clove. This is full-bodied with high acidity, light tannins, and a long finish. An outstanding and fun wine, though only available to Chateau Montelena club members in California or with visits to the winery.

Price: $125 (club price). I don’t think I can call this 500ml a great value at $125 each, however it is a delicious wine and surpassed all expectations I had for it. If you’re in the Montelena club, why not give it a try.

Perhaps the Greatest Name in Crozes-Hermitage

Today’s Story: Domaine Alain Graillot

Domaine Alain Graillot is a family owned and operated Northern Rhône wine estate established by Alain in 1985. Though he cut his teeth working in Burgundy and received advice from Jacques Seysses at Domaine Dujac, Alain returned to his home in Crozes-Hermitage to fulfill the dream of making his own wines. In the short few decades since, Alain’s wines rose to legendary status and are widely considered the greatest coming out of Crozes-Hermitage. The wines sell each year on an allocation basis, with about 50% leaving France and 50% remaining in France with large amounts going to the country’s best restaurants. Though Alain retired in 2008, he is still highly involved at the domaine where his sons Maxime and Antoine now hold the helm.

Though Alain rented vineyards to produce his wines in 1985, by 1988 he began acquiring them and the domaine today consists of about 22 hectares of organically farmed vines. The vineyards are planted mostly to Syrah (Alain’s passion variety), though they do contain about 3 hectares planted to white varieties of Marsanne and Roussanne. In addition to the holdings in Crozes-Hermitage, Alain Graillot owns small parcels of Syrah in Saint-Joseph and a very tiny parcel in Hermitage. Graillot’s vines are incredibly low-yielding thanks to severe pruning, and all fruit is harvested by hand.

In the cellar, Alain and now his son Maxime follow traditional vinification methods and utilize whole cluster fermentation with the red wines (except for the Saint-Joseph which uses destemmed fruit). White wines ferment 50% in one year old oak barrels purchased from top Burgundy estates and 50% in stainless steel tanks. After being blended at the end of winter, the white wines age before bottling in the spring. The reds, on the other hand, ferment in concrete vats and age for one year with about 80% going to one to three year old used Burgundy barrels and the remaining 20% going to vat. Before bottling, the reds are lightly filtered but unfined. Total production is around 10,000 cases annually.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Crozes-Hermitage

100% Syrah; 13.5% ABV

The 2017 Crozes-Hermitage is opaque deep purple in color, which leaves fairly heavy staining on the glass. After spending 2-3 hours in the decanter, this opens up with aromas of plum, blackberry, blueberry, black licorice, violets, black olive, wet rocky earth, underbrush, smoke, and a hint of oak. The palate, meanwhile, is opulent and decidedly sexy with notes of blackberry, cassis, black plum, tobacco, black tea leaf, scorched earth, crushed rock minerality, black pepper, and mild oak-driven spice. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, fine-grained but high tannins, and a medium (+) length finish. Give this another 3-5 years and it’ll be singing.

Price: $35. I think this is somewhere between fairly-priced and a great value. I know this is young but it has great finesse to it already that I think will improve with bottle age. It also exhibits a great sense of place that would be a great addition into any Syrah lover’s lineup, particularly if they’re not familiar with Crozes-Hermitage.

Powerful Yet Beautiful Amador County Syrah

Today’s Story: Favia Wines

I seem to be in a trend right now of revisiting wineries I previously wrote about, with my last post on Favia being in December of last year for their 2013 Linea Sauvignon Blanc.

Favia was founded in 2003 by viticulturist Annie Favia and winemaker Andy Erickson, a husband and wife duo. Annie has experience working with John Kongsgaard and Cathy Corison, though her viticulturist expertise came working under David Abreu. Andy also has an extensive resume, which includes winemaking stints at Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Ovid, Harlan Estate, and Staglin amongst others. Andy also consults for Arietta, Mayacamas, and Dancing Hares Vineyard.

I had an opportunity to visit Favia for a tour and tasting last year, and it truly is a special experience. Annie and Andy live on the property in a home built in 1886 for the Carbone family, who are believed to be the first Italian immigrants to Napa Valley. Though modernized, Annie and Andy restored the home using historical documents alongside other structures on the property. A very cool feature, the cellar sits under the family home and Favia stores their wine right where they live. Strong believers in biodynamic practices and caring for the earth, Annie and Andy planted fruit trees, an olive orchard, and a garden (which we got to try a tomato from) in addition to the existing walnut orchard.

I highly suggest a visit to Favia if you take a trip to Napa Valley, as it’s a very small, unique tasting experience and is not too far from downtown Napa. In the meantime, check out their website here to browse their wines and see incredible pictures of the property.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Quarzo Syrah

100% Syrah; 14.8% ABV

The 2014 Quarzo Syrah is opaque deep purple in color, though nearly black with fairly heavy staining. After about 45 minutes in the decanter, this really opened up nicely and the nose showcases aromas of blackberry compote, rich black plum, blueberry, black licorice, dried tobacco leaf, rocky earth, slight baking spice, and mild oak. There is some slight heat there too, but it’s not incredibly noticeable and should hopefully fully integrate with another couple years in bottle. On the palate, this classic Syrah offers notes of inky blackberry, black plum, black cherry, anise, tobacco, damp earth, slate, green peppercorn, and chocolate. This is full-bodied with medium acidity, medium (+) but polished tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $70. I think this wine is very appropriately priced based on its quality and true to variety form. This is a classic California Syrah that is big and bold yet beautiful with great depth. Andy and Annie’s wines are always enjoyable, and I also highly recommend a visit to the winery next time you are in Napa Valley.

Fun Santa Barbara County Syrah

Today’s Story: Black Sheep Finds

Black Sheep Finds (Holus Bolus and The Joy Fantastic) is a family owned and operated winery established by husband and wife Peter Hunken and Amy Christine in 2003 in Lompoc, California. Peter began his winemaking career in 2001 with Stolpman Vineyards, and also co-founded Piedrasassi where he remained until shifting all his attention to Black Sheep Finds in 2008. Amy has an impressive wine resume as well, earning the Master of Wine designation in 2013 and working with Kermit Lynch in Southern California.

Until 2015, Peter and Amy sourced all fruit for their wines from organically farmed vineyards in Santa Barbara County. In 2016, however, they completed the first harvest in their own estate vineyard named The Joy Fantastic which they began developing in 2014. The Joy Fantastic Vineyard is certified organic (CCOF) and consists of 5 acres planted to Syrah, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, though Black Sheep Finds does continue to work with select vineyard partners as well. The partners include Bien Nacido Vineyard (where they source Roussanne), Presqu’ile Vineyard (where they source small amounts of Syrah), and John Sebastiano Vineyard (where they source Syrah for Holus Bolus).

Today’s Wine: 2017 Holus Bolus Franc de Pied Syrah

100% Syrah; 13.5% ABV

The 2017 Franc de Pied Syrah is opaque medium to deep purple in color. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of blueberry, black cherry, plum, violet, pine, pepper, underbrush, and light smoke. On the palate, I get notes of blackberry, black plum, forest floor, purple florals, cracked pepper, and gravel. A delightful wine overall, this is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium tannins, and a medium length finish.

Price: $28 (averages closer to $40). For $28 I paid, I think this is a great value. It’s no doubt a young wine, but is certainly approachable right now and honestly I don’t think this will be incredibly long-lived. Even if found closer to $40, I think this is worthy of try.

Everyday Drinking Syrah

Today’s Story: The Paring

I previously wrote about The Paring when I reviewed their 2015 Red Blend, but I wanted to revisit the brand for the Syrah today.

The Paring is like a “little sister” to Jonata and The Hilt, both wineries I wrote about previously, and is produced from blocks that are either too young or not stylistically aligned with its big sisters. As I mentioned in previous posts, Jonata and The Hilt are sister wineries of Screaming Eagle through a shared owner in Stan Kroenke who also owns the LA Rams and other sporting teams. Jonata excels with Rhône and Bordeaux varieties while The Hilt commands Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, providing the basis for the Paring portfolio which includes a Bordeaux Blend, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Rosé of Pinot Noir. Fruit for The Paring is sourced primarily from the Ballard Canyon, Sta. Rita Hills, and Santa Maria Valley regions of Santa Barbara, and the winery also shares its skilled winemaker Matt Dees with Jonata and The Hilt.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Syrah

100% Syrah; 14.4% ABV

The 2017 Syrah is opaque deep purple in color with heavy staining on the glass. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of blackberry compote, blueberry, plum, sweet tobacco, wet gravel, baking spice, and oak. On the palate, I get notes of blueberry pie, candied black plum, black raspberry, underbrush, charred earth, slate, asphalt, and oak. This wine is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, grippy high tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $25. This is a classic California Syrah built for everyday drinking, and I think the price is perfectly fit for it. While certainly young and drinking more like a people-pleaser’s Syrah today, this would go great with food.

Great Value Italian Syrah

Today’s Story: Tenimenti d’Alessandro

Tenimenti d’Alessandro was established in 1967 by the d’Alessandro family when they acquired property in Manzano near Cortona in south-east Tuscany. Today the estate consists of about 30 hectares of certified organic vineyards, which are planted to Syrah, Viognier, and Sangiovese. During the 1980s, Tenimenti d’Alessandro experimented with a number of varieties before ultimately finding the soil and climate uniquely suited for Rhône varieties of Syrah and Viognier. In the beginning of the 1990s, d’Alessandro released their first Viognier and Syrah called Fontarca and Bosco, respectively, and have since become a benchmark producer in Cortona. Several years ago, the Calabresi family who had been partners of Tenimenti d’Alessandro since 2007 took ownership of Tenimenti d’Alessandro and today Filippo Calabresi handles much of the winemaking process. Under the Calabresi family, the winery became certified organic in 2016.

To further explore the estate or their wines, visit the website here.

Today’s Wine: 2013 Il Bosco Syrah

100% Syrah; 14% ABV

The 2013 Il Bosco Syrah is opaque deep purple in color and almost black in the bowl of the glass. I decanted this for 2 hours and drank it over the following 2 hours. The nose showcases aromas of black plum, blackberry, black licorice, tobacco, damp tilled soil, mild smoke, and oak, with some alcohol also poking through. Once in the mouth, the wine offers notes of black cherry, plum, blueberry, purple florals, sweet tobacco, crushed rock, dark chocolate, and green peppercorn. This is full-bodied with medium acidity, medium (+) fine-grained tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $38. This is my first Italian Syrah, but I do drink a good amount of Syrah and find this bottling to be a very strong value. While both distinctly Italian and distinctly Syrah, I think this would be a fun wine for any Syrah lover to try.