Some of the best red wines in the world are made from Syrah. These picks are ideal for Thanksgiving dinner.
I'm not one to rush out and man the barricades of an unpopular position just for the heck of it, but I love Syrah. Maybe that's because one of the first bottles that lured me into the wine world was a Syrah (a 1995 Ojai Roll Ranch Vineyard, purchased at a wine shop in Palo Alto, California, for a whopping $22). Maybe it's because Syrah is a great vehicle for both the fruity and the savory characteristics in red wine—it leads with flavors of ripe blackberries and raspberries, and follows up with all those other notes: smoke, black pepper, violets and so on. And Syrah pairs beautifully with the Thanksgiving meal. Here, five great bottles:
2009 Smoking Loon Syrah ($8)
Smoking Loon makes a broad range of wines, but the best is this brightly fruity, easygoing Syrah.
2008 Boomtown Syrah ($15)
For this cherry-inflected red, Corey Braunel and Chad Johnson of Washington's Dusted Valley Vintners blend in Mourvèdre and Barbera to add complexity.
2009 Bonterra Mendocino County Syrah ($16)
Dark and fragrant, this red from the cool hillsides of California's Mendocino County is made solely with organically grown grapes.
2009 Substance Sy Syrah ($20)
2008 Bonny Doon Le Pousseur Syrah ($20)
For this red, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon takes inspiration from the great Syrahs of France's northern Rhône Valley. What that means is a streamlined California Syrah with an abundance of savory and peppery notes.
Article updated November 2011.