Thayer Allison Gowdy
French Syrah is earthy, often gamy and smoky, with leather, pepper, black olive, and dark fruit flavors (blueberries show up a lot). Australian Shiraz is generally lush and fruity, with big, brambly blackberry flavors. West Coast Syrah is somewhere in the middle, leaning to France when it's grown in a cooler place, to Australia in a warmer climate. Our picks are in the $15 to $20 range.
Paul Jaboulet Aîné "Les Jalets" 2002 (Crozes Hermitage, France; $18). Lean and leathery, with black pepper, blueberries, and currants mixing with minerals through a long finish.
Perrin & Fils "Les Cornuds" Vinsobres 2003 (Côtes du Rhône Villages, France; $16). French minerality under peppery berries. Some Grenache is blended with Syrah here.
D'Arenberg "The Footbolt" Shiraz 2003 (McLaren Vale, South Australia; $19). Blackberries and black pepper, with slightly chewy tannins and great acid.
Tintara Shiraz 2003 (McLaren Vale, South Australia; $20). Smoky, peppery, and slightly gamy, with rich berries.
Edna Valley "Paragon" Syrah 2003 (Central Coast, CA; $15). Dark, minty berries with black pepper and vanilla, a few herbs, and a little mochaRosenblum Fess Parker Vineyard Syrah 2002 (Santa Barbara County; $20). Very earthy for the New World, with black olives, leather, pepper, and sweet pipe tobacco balanced with juicy berries.