The Five Best California Syrahs


By Blake Gray:

As with Pinot, the closer you get to the foggy, windy California coastline, generally speaking, the better the Syrah will be. Sonoma Coast is a terrific Syrah region, as is the chillier west side of Santa Barbara County.

Great California Syrah is not as expensive as great California Cabernet or great California Pinot. One thing I love about writing a list like this for Wine Searcher is that price is no object; these wines were chosen purely by quality, not quality/price ratio. But if I do a similar list about other great California reds, you’ll see higher prices on it….

Review: 2011 Red Car Fort Ross-Seaview Estate Vineyard Syrah: The label on this wine tells you the story with a terrific graphic, showing that the estate vineyard is both further west and higher up than other places in Sonoma County that have the reputation for being chilly. This lively wine opens with the smoothness and grace of Pinot Noir, then reminds you that it’s Syrah with its meatiness before finishing with a bit of welcome grittiness. The spicy, cinnamon aroma whets the palate for bright raspberry fruit. It’s only 12.7 percent alcohol but does not taste in any way underripe; the fruit is fully developed.

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