Bargain Rhone Dreams

In the grand scheme of *bargain Syrah*, this HAS to be at the forefront of the list. Pax’s NORTH COAST has to be up there, and also Dusty Nabor’s $25 NSO. Let’s see… what else…? But the thing about THIS Syrah is that it’s NOT a de-classified wine or second label. It is the Syrah they offer. And it never changes. Year after year it brings beautiful Rhone nuances to the table–NOT “clean, fruit-forward”, over-ripe, or alcohol-addled tourist wine. It is base and funky and reeking of beauty throughout. And it’s $15 bucks. Purple-ruby in the glass, a nutty, barnyard baseline propping up the meaty cherry fruit and old-world cellar-floor on the nose. I have often said you can’t get closer to the Rhone for the money in California, and I’m not faltering a bit with this vintage.

In the mouth, the calm, steadfast expression continues. Nowhere are chubby affectations or heated arguments. California sunshine makes an obvious appearance, but it doesn’t detract from the whole scenario of Cote-Rotie muted splendor. It’s not in-your-face. It doesn’t insult you like many Central Coast versions do. It’s not a cab–and it’s not a pinot. It’s straight-up fabulous syrah: shallowly earthy, acidic and spicy, black cherry tuned to ripe perfection with a still-abrasive finish even at 6. These things age timelessly–a true testament to solid winemaking ignorant of tasting-room trends or flashy extravaganza. Every time I open one of these it blows my mind.

2015 SANTA BARBARA WINERY Syrah Santa Ynez Valley Santa Barbara Co. 14.7

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