West Coast Syrahs Perfect for Winter Days

Red wine being poured by a fire.

While Syrah’s spiritual home is in France, most notably with the expressive bottlings of Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage and Cornas in the northern Rhône, the grape can also be found in many regions across the globe. In the U.S., Washington and California make some of the most sought-after bottlings of the variety. From the Central Coast all the way up to Columbia Valley, there are different expressions of the grape which offer an exciting array of Syrah to explore.

Syrah’s hallmark attributes of black or white pepper, black fruits, dried herbs and smoked meats give it an enticing appeal, making this a perfect wine to cozy up with during the winter months.

Put a few logs in the fire and warm up with a sumptuous glass of one of these Syrahs from Washington and California.

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Zaca Mesa 2015 Amphora Estate Vineyard Syrah (Santa Ynez Valley); $65, 94 points. Dark in the glass, this Syrah aged entirely in clay amphora is fascinating, starting with aromas of roasted lamb and crushed peppercorns. Firm, mouthcoating tannins frame the extremely intense and rich palate, which carries dark fruit and wet-clay flavors. Drink 2019–2030. Cellar Selection. —Matt Kettmann

Scar of the Sea 2016 Casa Vineyard Syrah (Santa Cruz Mountains); $60, 92 points. Smashed berries, charred meat and peppercorn-crusted game show on the nose of this expression of a single vineyard that’s dry farmed at 2,100 feet in the mountains. It’s very dry on the sip, with flavors of elderberry, crushed pepper and garden herbs. —M.K.

Jigar 2015 Tollini Vineyard Syrah (Redwood Valley); $28, 91 points. Very pure and deep black-cherry flavors highlight this inky-colored and full-bodied wine. It’s packed with layers of very ripe cherry, plum and blackberry and wrapped in thick velvety tannins for a full mouthfeel. —Jim Gordon

Avennia 2016 Arnaut Boushey Vineyard Syrah (Yakima Valley); $60, 91 points. The aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of flower, fresh and dried herb, wet iron and blue and purple fruit. There’s a pretty sense of purity and richness to the tightly wound blue fruit flavors, though they bring a bit of alcoholic heft along with them. Smoked meat notes linger on the finish. —Sean P. Sullivan

B Cellars 2016 Kick Ranch Syrah (Sonoma County); $73, 91 points. This is a meaty, thick version of the variety from a well-farmed site. It shows a density of tannic structure that wraps around elements of leather, tar, oak and brawny black pepper. The fruit broods appropriately in blackberry and blueberry richness. —Virginie Boone

Structure 2016 Bauhaus Syrah (Columbia Valley); $25, 90 points. Fruit for this wine is 43% Destiny Ridge, 30% Wallula, 14% Red Willow and 13% Stillwater Creek vineyards. Aromas of blueberry, herb and flower are followed by ripe but still in check blue and black fruit flavors that coat the palate but show a sense of elegance. Herbal notes persist on the finish. It brings a lot of appeal. —S.S.

J. Lohr 2016 Gesture Syrah (Paso Robles); $30, 90 points. Smoothed-out aromas of caramelized blackberry, vanilla and purple flowers make for a very full and inviting nose on this bottling. Black-cherry, baking-spice and mocha-cappuccino flavors show on the lush and hedonistic palate, which is hard not to like. —M.K.

Liberty Lake 2016 Reserve Syrah (Red Mountain); $40, 90 points. Coming from Ranch at the End of the Road Vineyard, aromas of blackberry and blue fruit are followed by ripe, full-bodied fruit  flavors with slightly gritty tannins. It delivers a lot of hedonistic appeal.—S.S.

Flanagan 2016 Syrah (Bennett Valley); $75, 90 points. This is a meaty and thick wine, brimming in blueberry, violet and licorice. Full bodied and intensely ripe, it presents as smooth and richly woven on the palate. —V.B.

Riaza 2015 Unorthodox Syrah (Mokelumne River); $26, 88 points. This bold and full-bodied wine has ripe jammy Port-like aromas, plump blackberry flavors and a rich, almost-sweet, palate impression. It’s certainly mouth coating and tooth staining. —J.G

Published on January 16, 2019
Topics: Wine Ratings