3. Rusack Syrah Ballard Canyon
Rusack is owned by Geoff and Alison Rusack, who replanted their estate vineyard in Ballard Canyon in 2003. The winemaker is the talented Steven Gerbac, who was recently named head winemaker after working at Rusack since 2003. With its roasted and dried cured meat aromas and flavors, this Syrah is a terrific value at $23.
 
Saturated, very dark ruby color; roasted black fruit, roasted meat, pepper, oregano nose; tight, dense, roasted black fruit, tart black fruit, savory, pepper, dried cured meat palate; medium-plus finish. 9% Petite Sirah; 2% American oak. 93+ points

4. Andrew Murray 
Andrew Murray has been making delicious Syrahs and other Rhône varieties in Santa Barbara County for over 20 years. He is committed to value pricing, offering some of his Rhône blends for as low as $15. This peppery, single-vineyard Syrah would sing with any grilled red meat.
 
Opaque black-tinged purple red violet color; appealing, liquid pepper, roasted plum, roasted meat nose; rich, velvety textured, tart berry, tart black fruit, tar, pepper, black berry palate with medium acidity; medium-plus finish. 14.9% alcohol. 93+ points
 
Opaque purple red violet color; appealing, pepper, tar, charcoal nose; tasty, poised, complex, pepper, roasted black fruit, mineral, tar palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish. With 4% co-fermented Viognier. 93 points
 
5. Halcón Vineyards
Paul and Valerie Gordon own Halcón Vineyard, planted primarily with heritage Syrah clones from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie and situated at 2500 feet at the top of Hawk’s Butte in Yorkville Highlands, at the eastern edge of Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley. Winemaker Scott Shapley was assistant winemaker for Novy, and then head winemaker at Crushpad. He is currently winemaker for Roessler Cellars as well as Halcón.
 
Opaque purple red violet color; lifted, lavender, violets, tart berry nose; delicious, tart berry, black fruit, tar, mineral palate; needs 3-plus years; medium-plus finish. 93+ points
 
6. Bedrock Wine Co.
Morgan Twain Peterson, son of Ravenswood’s Joel Peterson, founded this label which has rapidly gained renown for making characterful wines primarily from very old vineyards. The Bedrock mailing list quickly closed last year, but this wine has broader availability and would be delightful with a summer barbecue, or any grilled red meat.
 
Dark ruby color; very aromatic, berry, black plum, blackberry, creosote nose; tasty, tight, tart black fruit, pepper, creosote palate; medium-plus finish . Roughly 1/3 whole cluster, 20% new oak; fruit mainly from Wildcat Mountain Vineyard, with a little Griffin's Lair, Hudson and Old Lakeville. 93+ points
 
7. Westerhold Family Vineyards
Westerhold Family is a small producer of terrific, flavorful estate Syrahs made by the talented Russell Bevan. The vineyard, in Sonoma’s Bennett Valley AVA, is planted to the Alban clone 1 of Syrah. For those who like their Syrahs big and flavorful, you can’t go wrong with this one.
 
Opaque purple red violet color; tart black fruit, tar, licorice nose; tasty, intense, tart black fruit, tar, licorice palate; long finish. 22 months in French oak. 93+ points
 
Very dark purple red violet color; tart plum, tart black fruit, smoke, charcoal nose; tasty, plush, ripe berry, black fruit, violets palate; medium-plus finish. 92+ points
 
8. Bien Nacido Vineyards
Bien Nacido Vineyards comprises over 750 acres of vines in a beautiful canyon setting. The first plantings date back to 1973 and the vineyard encompasses everything from valley floor to hillside vineyards, some of which are farmed biodynamically for particular clients. Most of their fruit is sold to other wineries, but the Miller Family that owns Bien Nacido started making a small amount of wine under their own label in 2010. The winemaker is Trey Fletcher, who was previously assistant winemaker at Littorai.
 
Opaque black red violet color; appealing, lifted, roasted black fruit, black and white pepper, charcoal nose; tight, tasty, tart roasted black fruit, black and white pepper, mineral palate with purity and salinity; medium-plus finish. 14.5% alcohol; from Block Z, with about 5% interplanted Viognier, planted in late 1980s. 93+ points