2009 Cline Cool Climate Syrah Sonoma Coast 13.5% $16
This smells a little sweet but also delivers terrific herbal, floral and medicinal spice notes, with rich black pepper and bacon fat base notes. Juicy and broad in the mouth, there’s nice energy here with lively acids and very finely polished tannins. The fruit profile offers up blueberry and mulberry notes, backed up with balsamic undertones, minty spice and a gentle underlay of toasted oak. A nice dried meat tone drifts over the fruit on the moderately long and red fruited finish. This is pretty delicious. 90pts
2008 Jaboulet Les Jalets Crozes Hermitage 12.5% $19
This smells of soil and herbs, little pebbles, green peppercorns, wild cherry and perfumed lingonberry, all framed with a gentle edge of old wood. Firmly medium-bodied, this shows off a rather stern first impression: a bit drying, rigid and tangy, with briary edges. Clear if light red fruits on the mid-palate have some bacon and speck notes adding detail on the back end. The finish is super sapid with an almost raspberry refrain. A bit small-scaled, but this is very well put together and shows a gentle elegance. 88pts.
2008 Cline Sonoma Estate Syrah Los Carneros 15% $22
Smoky and peppery on the nose with deep plum and huckleberry fruit, framed with chocolaty oak notes and a nice thread of chorizo. On the palate, this is relatively big with noticeable tannins and fine integrated acids. The fruit is a touch matte and anonymous, though there is a light aromatic note on the mid-palate. The back end is tight and gently balsamic with emerging game notes that get slammed on the finish by the wall of drying tannins. This needs some time but could improve- or serve it today with rich, smoky food. 87pts
2009 Valley of the Moon Syrah Sonoma County 14.5% $17
2009 DeMorgenzon DMZ Syrah Western Cape South Africa 14.5% $14
Dark blueberry and blackberry fruit on the nose, with fine pepper, dried duck and mutton notes. This smells a little reticent but with some compelling details. A little soft on entry, this is broad with gentle acidity and some nicely small if angular tannins. A mouth-filling wine that could use some brightness on the palate, it nonetheless delivers some nice cotton candy-edged black berry, black currant fruit. A nice underlay of oak spice becomes a bit dominant on the modest finish. This is young and may improve in the bottle, though today it does offer a nicely restrained style of Syrah. I think this might have more to say. 87pts
2010 Excelsior Syrah Robertson South Africa 14% $8
Nicely varietal on the nose with jammy forest fruits, pepper, smoke and mutton. Soft, round and decidedly fruity with a touch of RS. This is a lovely party, easy drinking wine with Syrah character in a soft, supple package. There’s a nice touch of white pepper here and a pop of fruit, though not much of a finish. Good for a BBQ. This is a super value for a fruitier style Syrah, and unless my memory fails me, this had been labeled as Shiraz in the past. I hope Excelsior reconsiders and returns to that most descriptive term! 85pts
Other wines tasted for this article
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