Syrah grows well all over the world, but these regions produce benchmark bottles.
Central Coast, California
The Central Coast's warmth and ocean-cooled breezes translate to velvety but balanced reds.
Wine to Buy: 2005 Ojai Vineyard Bien Nacido Syrah ($38) Ojai's Adam Tolmach makes some of the best Syrahs in America. This single-vineyard bottling combines succulent berry fruit with floral and earthy notes.
Columbia Valley, Washington
Washington's moderate climate and long, relatively cool growing season result in ink-dark wines with lots of spice notes.
Hunter Valley, Australia
A fairly torrid region, Hunter Valley produces velvety Shiraz, full of ripe blackberry flavors.
Wine to Buy: 2007 Brokenwood Hunter Valley Shiraz ($36) Brokenwood's Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz is an Australian classic; this bottling has similar richness and depth at a third of the price.
Gimblett Gravels, New Zealand
An ancient riverbed, the Gimblett Gravels has become one of the most exciting new Syrah regions for its vividly floral, complex wines.
The hill of Hermitage, rising directly from France's Rhône river, produces formidable reds able to age for decades.
Côte Rôtie, France
The reds of this region in France's Rhône Valley are more taut and smoky than Hermitage's and are equally sought after.
Wine to Buy: 2007 René Rostaing Côte Rôtie ($65) René Rostaing's tremendously aromatic basic bottling is an ideal introduction to this famed region.