Syrah may lack the gracefulness of pinot noir and the flashy, unbridled power of cabernet sauvignon, but there’s no question it deserves a perch atop the pantheon of the world’s noblest red wine grapes. With aromatic intrigue and length of flavor, it’s got equivalent potential for terroir expression and aging, and is an absolute virtuoso with food—not to mention a screaming bargain. If you travel the world, you’ll be impressed by how good, and how moderately priced, the local syrah is. Check out these blind-tasting winners for a sampling.
Hedges DLD Cuvee Dupont Syrah, Red Mountain, 2012
Many insiders believe that this grape is most suited to the dry, high desert conditions of eastern Washington, and there are some cult bottlings from sites throughout the state, where it was first planted in 1986. This nice, smooth bottle from a 15-acre vineyard on Red Mountain is quintessential syrah: aromas of coffee, smoke and berry jam, with ripe, red fruit flavors and a hot spicy finish. It pairs great with grilled steak or tuna.
$34, Urban Grape, South End
Mitolo Jester Shiraz, McLaren Vale, 2015
The Aussies call it shiraz, but it’s the same grape. McLaren Vale’s temperate oceanic-
influenced climate and long growing season create sleek, balanced shiraz; and this one is the epitome of brightness with a profusion of crushed dark raspberry, clove, cocoa and black pepper notes. The rich, lush, intensely concentrated wine has seductive round tannins that coat the palate, a natural partner for thick, wintery stews (or leftover turkey).
$15, Wegmans, Westwood
Santa Rita Reserva Syrah, Maipo Valley, 2015
Chile’s history with syrah only dates back about 20 years, so the country’s vines are relatively young. Santa Rita Reserva is a juicy style with floral red and black berry notes, hints of licorice and tobacco, and a mellow, silky texture. It’s extremely well proportioned, medium in body and has a peppery finish that plays exceptionally well with Latin fare.
$13, Common Vines, Downtown Crossing
Sandy Block is a master of wine and the vice president of beverage operations for Legal Sea Foods.