Some new wines to check out...
Some new wines to check out...

Varietal of the Month

Every month we share a capsule review of 6-8 wines from along the Wine Road each month, with a link for you to purchase.

9 bottles of Syrah on a table in front of a window with trees in the background
Syrah, indigenous to the Rhône region in France, is a full-bodied dry red wine with supple tannins and savory flavor. It’s juicy and spice-driven with dark black fruits and a telltale note of black olive. If you wrote a dating profile for Syrah it might read: “Dark, rich and elegant with great character. I’m smooth and seductive and have a thing for the spicy side of life with a penchant for black olives. Call me! Or better yet, drink me!!” Yes, Syrah has all the markers for a great date, but an even better as a date wine.

Here are capsule reviews of Syrah you may find along the Wine Road. 
Acorn 2019 Axiom Syrah, Russian River Valley

The ACORN 2019 Axiom Syrah is a field blend of Syrah inter-planted with Viognier. Before tasting, pause and raise a glass to the ACORN field-blend champions, for this 21st vintage from the vineyard is also the last. Enjoy it while you can. In the glass it’s deep garnet in color with a sage and blackberry nose and secondary notes of vanilla and cedar. On the palate a plush mouth feel, rich black fruits such as blueberry and plum predominate with a warm mid-palate note of nutmeg and dark chocolate. The long finish is juicy and lush with smooth spicy tannins. Pair with sausage pizza with arugula.

ABV 14.6%
$ 50 (Shop Here)
Alexander Valley Vineyards 2019 Syrah, Alexander Valley

The Alexander Valley Vineyards 2019 Syrah is a dark purple color in the glass with a deep fragrant nose of violets, cocoa, smoky sage, mint and black pepper. On the palate it’s full flavored and earthy—mocha, leather, fig cassis, and blueberry with a wonderful spicy cured meat note. It has a sunny acidity that warmly transits across the palate. The long plush finish has soft integrated tannins. Pair with herb dusted goat cheese and prosciutto wrapped figs.

ABV 14%
$ 26 (Shop Here)
Amista Vineyards
Amista Vineyards 2018 Syrah, Dry Creek Valley

The Amista 2018 Syrah from Morningstar Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley Garnet is a deep ruby color. There’s a spot on the trail I frequent where on a warm summer day the scent of ripe juicy blackberries mingles with tufts of minty pennyroyal and the crushed gravel dust kicked up from my hiking boots—and that mixture of blackberry, mint and dusty gravel smells just like this Syrah. The palate has a plush mouth feel with juicy black fruits, black olive, black cherry and raspberry on the long spicy finish. Pair with Pork tenderloin with herbs de Provence.
ABV 14.7%
$ 50 (Shop Here)
Balletto Vineyards
Balletto Vineyards 2018 Syrah, Russian River Valley

The Balletto 2018 Syrah from the BCD Vineyard in Russian River Valley is dark garnet in color with scents of sweet violet, black cherry, blueberry, licorice and chocolate mint. As it opens a savory note of bacon fat emerges that is simply divine. On the palate it’s earthy and plush with flavors of graphite, plum sauce, and cardamom. The finish is a compelling vibe of warm spicy chocolate and black olive that builds and deepens with each sip. Pair with spicy lamb kabobs and fresh mint.
ABV 13.8%
$ 36 (Shop Here)
Baldassari Family Wines
Baldassari Family Wines 2020 Syrah, Bennett Valley

The Baldassari 2020 Syrah from Nolan Vineyard in Bennett Valley has a deep earthy nose with scents of black fruits, chocolate, clove, and crushed violets. On the palate it has a soft sensuous charm with a plush mouth feel and smooth knitted tannins. Savory and flavorful with notes of pink peppercorn, pomegranate, blueberry and secondary notes of cassis and smoky vanilla. The spicy peppery finish is long and layered with a touch of black olive. Very delicious! Pair with spice rubbed pork chops with mango chutney.
ABV 14.2%
$ 43 (Shop Here)
Capo Creek
Capo Creek 2018 Syrah, Fountaingrove District

The Cāpo Creek 2018 Syrah from Fountain Grove District has a deep
burgundy color in the glass. On the nose, scents of violet, crushed gravel, blueberry, plum, sweet tobacco, and milk chocolate. On the palate notes of sweet briar, fig and vanilla, which builds to a minty crescendo with smooth integrated tannins. It’s like an adult version of a Peppermint Patty! Smooth and satisfying with a spicy finish that is both fresh and savory. It’s great to sip on its own or pair simply with charcuterie board and rosemary flat bread.

ABV 14.9%
J. Rickards Winery
J. Rickards Winery 2019 Syrah, Furlong Vineyard

The J. Rickards Winery 2019 Syrah from Furlong Vineyard in Alexander Valley is dark garnet in the glass. On the nose a rush of scents including blueberry, clove fruitcake, sweet cherry, cassis, cocoa, leather and a meaty note like cured sausage. 
Fresh and fruity it has great complexity, texture and flavor. On the palate notes of sage, chocolate, herbal cherry and blackberry compote with a zingy hit of black olive. Silky tannins and lush long finish build to an exhilarating finish with juicy blackberry and black cherry notes. Pair with Moroccan Chicken Tagine.

ABV 14.6%
$ 35 (Shop Here)
Longboard Vineyards
Longboard Vineyards 2019 Savage Coast Syrah, Russian River Valley
The 2019 Longboard Savage Côast Syrah from Russian River Valley is dark magenta in the glass. On the nose a characteristic rotundone note—the aromatic peppery quality of peppercorns, marjoram and oregano found in Rhône grown Syrah. Additional scents of blueberry, cassis, violet, black cherry, leather and gravel give it a grounded earthy heft. On the palate a soft mouthful with sassafras (aka root beer) black olive, cranberry, sweet tobacco, clove, espresso and a cured meat note. The spicy finish is long and taut with balanced supportive tannins. Pair with Grilled Sausages and Peppers.

ABV 14.5%
$ 68 (Shop Here)
Peterson Winery
Peterson Winery 2016 Bradford Mountain Vineyard Syrah

The Peterson 2016 Syrah, Gravity Flow Block has serenity and a tension that makes me think of the moment just before the conductor drops the baton and the music begins. That suspended moment of anticipation is mirrored here in the way the flavors build coalesce into a singular harmony. Medium garnet in color it has a lovely potpourri nose of violet, sage, spicy black carnation, blueberries and plum with a minty-chocolate-anise note. On the palate, a plush mouthfeel with blueberry, sweet tobacco, chocolate mint, leather, graphite and black pepper. The fine tannins carry the complexity of black fruit flavors through to the end with a trace of black olive on the finish. Pair with classical music and Chateaubriand. 

ABV 14.7%
$ 48 (Shop Here)

Posted by Marcy Gordon

Marcy Gordon is a freelance wine and travel writer. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Wine Enthusiast, San Francisco Chronicle, Sonoma Magazine, The California Travel Guide, and Forbes Travel Guide. In 2017 she was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. She is the co-host of the award winning Wine Road Podcast.

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