Syrah makes for a great beverage choice as we segue into colder weather. With its rich, fruit-forward flavors, it is a great match for those heartier dishes that grace the fall table. While more Syrah is planted in France than in any other country, the grape has found a home in vineyards around the world, with wines produced on every continent excluding Antarctica. Here are the panel's top picks, finishing in an unprecedented three-way tie for first place:
2014 Domaine Lombard Brézème Grand Chêne, $23
One hundred percent Syrah, Brézème is one of the smallest appellations of France's northern Rhône Valley. Touches of earth and licorice color the dark fruit aromas (plum and berry). The juicy palate is filled with ripe berry and cherry flavors, backed by light tannins and racy acidity. Mineral notes mark the long, velvety finish. The perfect pairing for hearty meat stews.
2014 Kiona Red Mountain Syrah, $21
This Washington State, 100% Syrah from the Emery Vineyard offers a rich array of aromas including boysenberry, chocolate, spice and a whiff of tobacco. The silky red fruits are backed by ripe tannins that add grip, while food-friendly acidity comes through on the finish. This creamy and oh-so-smooth Syrah is drinking beautifully now.
2016 Qupé Syrah, $22
A Syrah-dominant blend (with an added 10% mix of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Tempranillo), it hails from California's Central Coast. Bing cherry aromas dominate up front, combining with cocoa, anise and spice. The youngest of the trio offers pure fruit flavors of bright raspberry that turn a little savory on the fresh and lively finish. It's a definite crowd-pleaser.