After tasting more than 300 affordable American wines, Senior Editor Ray Isle reports on his most exciting Syrah and Petite Sirah finds.Additional research by Megan Krigbaum


2006 Cypress Vineyards Central Coast Shiraz ($10)

There's a touch of overripeness here, but fans of high-octane reds won't mind. Cypress Vineyards is an affordable second label produced by J. Lohr Vineyards.

2004 Montevina Amador County Syrah ($10)

The model of a barbecue wine, Montevina's Syrah from the warm vineyards of California's Amador County is a big dose of smoke, pepper and plums.

2006 Cline Sonoma County Syrah ($12)

Cline makes some of the best values in California Syrah. This peppery red tastes like a good Côtes-du-Rhône with the rich generosity of California fruit.

2005 Kendall-Jackson California Syrah ($12)

Kendall-Jackson, best known for its ubiquitous Vintner's Blend Chardonnay, makes a wide range of red and white wines, among them this aromatic, muscular Syrah.

2004 Clos du Bois North Coast Syrah ($14)

Toasty oak notes carry through this red, a good all-purpose choice from a producer that's had a jump in quality since the arrival a few years ago of winemaker Eric Olsen, formerly of Chateau Ste. Michelle.

2005 Beringer Third Century Syrah ($14)

Beringer's talented winemaker Laurie Hook concentrates on the Syrah variety's plum and blackberry flavors, rather than its more aggressively spicy notes, for this full-bodied red.

Petite Sirah

2005 Bogle California Petite Sirah ($11)

The Bogle family has been farming in the Clarksburg region since the mid-1800s, but it wasn't until 1968 that they started growing grapes. This inky Petite Sirah, with boysenberry and licorice notes, has helped put the variety on wine buyers' radar.

2005 Vinum Cellars PETS Petite Sirah ($14)

Vinum Cellars makes a number of appealing wines, including their fanciful CNW—"Chard No Way"—white blend, but the top value in its broad portfolio is this juicy, zesty, boysenberry-inflected red, made with grapes grown in California's Clarksburg region.