Syrah has the potential to be grown and crafted in as wide a range of styles as any grape variety in the world. From fruit-forward and exuberant to practically dripping with bacon fat and tapenade, to bottlings that are lifted to the vinous stratosphere with the spicy, occasionally floral perfume of fresh-cracked peppercorns, Syrah (or Shiraz) is a grape that rewards exploration.
Which is why tasting for this piece was so deeply rewarding: Over the course of several dozen wines, it became abundantly clear that producers all over the world are crafting absolutely delicious Syrah and Syrah-based blends in a huge range of styles.
READ MORE: The 19 Best Grenache Wines to Buy Right Now
Still, for all that breadth, there is a remarkable thread that runs through the best of them, a savoriness that slices through the fruit, and a balance between the two that lends both tension and complexity.
Below are 42 Syrahs from all over the world, listed alphabetically, that exemplify what makes the variety so exciting. I chose not to include blends that incorporate less than 75% Syrah, which means that I had to leave out some excellent example from around the world, particularly the Southern France and the Rhône Valley. The 2017 Gérard Bertrand Château La Sauvageonne and the 2017 Vidal-Fleury Ventoux are both delicious, for example, but are only 60% Syrah, so I didn't include them in this roundup.
From familiar places in California and Australia to less-expected locates in Idaho and beyond, here are highly pleasurable Syrahs worth looking for.
2017 Abeja Syrah Walla Walla Valley, Washington ($52)
Plush, generous aromas of black-cherry crème brûleé and black peppercorns are instantly comforting: This is the kind of wine you can curl up on the couch with, but it's also very food-friendly. That richness follows through to the palate, where more ripe berry and plum fruit emerge, and are joined by licorice and blood orange. Excellent example of what Washington State does so well. Drink now through 2026+.
2018 Andrew Murray Vineyards Syrah Watch Hill Vineyard, Santa Barbara County ($55)
The acid here really cuts through the black-raspberry conserve notes with aplomb, yet it's nicely anchored with maple-bacon aromas. Pepper finds a partner in blackberries, and pomegranate syrup wraps around the tongue, lifted with the suggestion of something almost minty in character, begging for sweet-sauced ribs. This is a generous Syrah with freshness and vibrancy.
2018 Bien Nacido Estate Syrah Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County ($60)
At just 13.1% alc., this is a totally different style from many of the other Syrah grown in Bien Nacido that I tasted for this piece. Yet it shows how remarkable a place this really is: The peppercorn notes practically sizzle from the glass, and each sniff is joined by a blend of spices that bring to mind za'atar. The palate is lithe and energetic, with plenty of black raspberries and cherry pits, and a tannic structure that frames those flavors and lends its own notes of sarsaparilla and cola, finishing with dried flowers and olive pits.
2015 Buty "Rediviva of the Stones" Walla Walla Valley, Washington ($60)
Blended from 78% Syrah and joined by 19% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Mourvèdre, this beautiful, flower-lifted red speaks vividly about why The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater is generating so much buzz. It's a vibrant wine, sparked with spice and dripping with red currants and wild mountain berries. It all has enough concentration and acidity to find an excellent sense of balance and length. And the savory, mineral-flecked finish is really intriguing. Drink now through 2026+.
2017 Cattleya "The Initiation" Syrah Santa Lucia Highlands ($70)
Exploding from the glass with huckleberries and crushed blueberries, this violet-perfumed Syrah showcases all the sweet, ripe fruit that fans of the variety tend to love, with enough of an undertow of ancho-powder spice, cured meat, and leather to keep it harmonious. Generous, plush, savory, ripe, and weighty.
2016 Château Paul Mas "Clos de Mûres" Languedoc, France ($25)
Crafted from 85% Syrah and the rest Grenache Noir and Mourvèdre, this gently spiced Southern French sipper also has plenty of cherry fruit aromas that lead to an energetic palate bursting with fresh cherries, scrubby Mediterranean herbs, and cracked peppercorns. Very fresh, yet with plenty of depth. Drink over the next five years.
2018 Colter's Creek Winery "Fondo" Syrah Lewis-Clark Valley, Idaho ($25)
Classic notes of leather, green olives, and white peppercorns rise from the glass and prep the palate for flavors of beautifully defined black raspberries, pomegranate syrup, graphite, and dusty tannins that allow sappy red cherry flavors to linger through the mineral-flecked and subtly meaty finish. At $25, this offers incredible value.
2017 Covenant Syrah Tel Faris Vineyard, Golan Heights, Israel ($75)
Crafted from 90% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, this native-yeast-fermented beauty is generous and ripe with a wonderfully appealing wave of black cherries and chili-flecked dark chocolate, yet with an undertow of savory spice beneath it all that lingers on the tongue through the balanced, food-friendly finish, itself flashed through with Amarena cherries and warm vanilla.
2016 Cuvaison "Diablo" Syrah Los Carneros, Napa Valley ($50)
Deep, fascinating aromas of leather, crushed blackberries, plums, and tar tee up a silk-textured palate of depth and ripeness. Plum pudding, cassis, holiday spice, and dark chocolate roll along with toasty vanilla and licorice, all of it lingering through the generous, chocolate-dusted finish.
2017 Delas Domaine des Tourettes Hermitage ($99)
There is a remarkable sense of purity to the nose of this gorgeous wine, terrific detail to the spiced black raspberries and cherries that set the stage for precise flavors of mountain and brambly berries, mixed cherries, singed wild herbs and toasted fennel seeds, olive tapenade, and spice, all built on a spine of granite-like minerality. This is irresistible right now—the fruit and acidity are stunning!—but will continue to reward and grow more savory for another two decades.
2016 Dutton Goldfield Syrah Dutton Ranch, Cherry Ridge Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($50)
There is an almost Pinot Noir-like elegance to this Syrah, a silky texture to the tannins and a gorgeous rose-petal lift to the cherries. Star anise, cinnamon, and a touch of clove are balanced by lavender, and a finish that nods in the direction of cherry-chocolate pôt de crème lingers with definition and subtlety. The Pinot-producer's hand is evident here, and this wine is all the better for it. Excellent.
2016 E. Guigal Château d'Ampuis Côte-Rôtie ($175)
The aromatics here are textbook examples of why the name Guigal is often used so synonymously with the great wines of Côte-Rôtie: Cracked white peppercorns, leather, scrubby dried herbs, cured black olives, and brambly berries are fleshed out on the palate with black cherries and raspberries, deeply grilled stone fruit, and spice, all of which is sweetened up with a wave of blueberry cobbler on the spice-sizzled yet still generous and subtly floral finish. Amazing right now, and will continue to evolve for another 15 – 20 years. Also don't miss the 2018 E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage ($35), whose savory character—soy, hoisin sauce, marrow with fresh-cracked pepper—finds delicious counterpoints in cassis, crushed blackberries, and plum pudding that linger through the long, haunting, yet vibrant finish. This is a lot of wine for the price.
2019 Eberle Syrah Steinbeck Vineyard, Paso Robles ($34)
Bursting with fresh ripe fruit—cherry cobbler, wild strawberries, blackberries—enrobed in chocolate with a touch of vanilla bean, this is a Syrah in which the spice tones are secondary to the ripe fruit. On its own or alongside grilled meats, this will be a crowd-pleaser.
2018 Ex Post Facto Syrah Santa Barbara County ($36)
Crafted by Greg Brewer, this whole-cluster gem spent 60 days on its skins and stems, and the result is a wine of precision and definition: Notably fresh acidity brings tarragon and licorice notes to the fore, where they are joined by green peppercorns, oyster-shell minerality, and a solid core of blueberries, blackberries, and a flowers, especially on the finish. Great price for a wine this layered.
2013 Gamble Family Vineyards Old Vine Syrah Saint Helena, Napa Valley ($75)
The interplay of cured pork, chocolate, and dried flowers here is fascinating, and the bacon fat flavors that linger throughout lend this a deeply savory character that pulls it along through the huckleberry and blueberry-focused finish, all spiced with clove and cinnamon.
2017 Gust Syrah Petaluma Gap, Sonoma County ($48)
Classic Northern Rhône-style white peppercorn and meat, with a core of brambly berry fruit. Sipping reveals a plush, velvety, and generous wine, with lovely grainy tannins and flavors of blueberries, huckleberries, smoked bacon, cracked peppercorns, olives, and plums. Jamaican jerk spice, allspice, and a hint of violets also make an appearance. Drink over the next 10+ years.
2018 Herman Story Syrah Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County ($60)
Inky and somewhat viscous in appearance, which makes sense given its 15.8% alc., this is a full-throttle Syrah that thoroughly embodies the character of the grape variety in this patch of the planet. Aromas of baseball-mitt leather, cured black olives, and prunes tee up a palate that runs in waves over the tongue with flavors of cherry compote, fresh-grated cinnamon, star anise, charred vanilla pod, grilled plums, and blackberry liqueur, all lifted with floral peppercorns.
2017 Hickinbotham "Brooks Road" Shiraz McLaren Vale, Australia ($75)
There is a real sense of freshness to the nose, a sea breeze character that further enlivens aromas of brambly berries and Mediterranean herbs. The palate is just as bright, with black raspberries, blackberries, and cherries, all energetic with minerality and mouthwatering with lengthy acidity, chamomile, and sweet spice. Whether you drink this now or into the 2030s, its pleasures will be substantial.
2016 J. Lohr "South Ridge" Syrah Paso Robles ($15)
Ripe with black raspberries, plums, crushed blueberries, and sweet spice on the nose, this is just as generous when sipped, with cafe mocha and sweet springtime flowers rippling through a plush yet vibrant palate of blackberry flan and melted chocolate. Excellent value!
2018 Jada "Jersey Girl" Syrah Willow Creek District of Paso Robles ($66)
High-toned peppercorn rises from the glass, carrying aromas of boysenberries, huckleberries, and blueberry cobbler. These follow through to the palate, where they're joined by melted chocolate, star anise, hoisin sauce, and blackberry liqueur. Rich, generous, nicely defined, and very appealing.
2012 Jaffurs Syrah Thompson Vineyard, Santa Barbara County ($30)
With a silky texture carrying brambly berries and Amarena cherries at its center, this is a Syrah that still has years of evolution left. But the ripeness and balance of the fruit lead me to believe that it's probably at its peak right now, or will be soon. Sappy, with a hint of soy sauce and demi glace, as well as a touch of plum sauce and a slight camphor lift. Delicious, especially with grilled game meats.
2017 Jonata "La Sangre de Jonata" Syrah Ballard Canyon, Santa Ynez Valley ($145)
Bright yet anchored, perfumed with lavender and candied violets, and rich with boysenberries and blueberries dancing alongside iron notes, all before a palate of ripe cherries and raspberries, soy sauce, and pink peppercorns that ring through the lengthy and savory, almost saline finish. So vibrant, well-balanced, and expressive: The harmony between ripe fruit and more savory notes is fantastic.
2017 Keller Estate "Rôtie" Petaluma Gap, Sonoma County ($60)
Black and red raspberries and bruised strawberries sizzle with cracked peppercorns, flowers, and smoky citrus, and tee up a plush-textured palate in which those fruit and spice notes are in exceptional harmony. The finish leans more savory and adds a subtle suggestion of tapenade to the mix, making this uniquely well-suited to dry-rubbed ribs done on the smoker. Syah co-fermented with 7% Viognier, hence the reference in the name to the Northern Rhône's Côte-Rôtie.
2015 Kimsey Syrah Ballard Canyon ($60)
So high-toned and full of cracked peppercorns, with gobs of green olives and dried thyme lending savoriness to the aromatics. A subtle saline, almost blood-like flavor to the palate is complicated by black cherries, fresh oregano, dried thyme, black tea, crunchy minerality, grenadine notes, hints of chocolate powder, and summertime flowers. Very complex.
2017 Larner Syrah Ballard Canyon, Santa Ynez Valley ($38)
Vibrant and spicy, this Syrah has an excellent core of black raspberries and mixed mountain berries that are kissed with ancho-flecked dark chocolate and candied orange peels. Well-calibrated acidity keep this gliding across the tongue with energy.
2017 Le Macchiole "Scrio" Toscana ($210)
What a wonderful expression of Syrah—high-toned and bright with acidity, but pulled along with an undertow of cracked black peppercorns and bacon. This is so energetic, with cherries to spare, and those savory notes—green olives, even a hint of bone broth—sweeping in on the finish make this endlessly fascinating and delicious. Enjoy this propulsive, energetic wine now and over the next 15+ years. This was the first 100% Syrah from Bolgheri when the inaugural 1994 was released, and it remains a benchmark.
2016 Lismore Syrah W.O. Cape South Coast, South Africa ($67)
Silky and sappy, with layers of fruit and spice that unfurl as each sip glides across the palate. Forest floor and leather like a baseball mitt are intertwined with blackberries, huckleberries, raspberries, orange pith, springtime flowers just after the rain, and a savory pulse of mineral through the mouthwatering finish.
2017 Maxime Graillot Domaine des Lises Crozes-Hermitage ($36)
Purple-berry and plum-driven aromatics boast excellent concentration before a palate that's just as generous yet also cut through with violets, peppercorns, plum pits, and a lingering note of rooibos tea. The freshness here makes it hard to resist right now, but it has several years left in the tank.
2016 Mi Sueño Winery Syrah Napa Valley ($60)
With a texture of pure velvet and flavors of cassis-filled dark chocolate bonbons, this Syrah is ripe and immediately enjoyable, though laying it down for a few years will allow the more savory notes of coffee beans and tobacco to sing with greater effusiveness than they do right now. Either way, this is a terrific bottle of wine.
2017 Mount Langi Ghiran "Langi" Shiraz Grampians, Victoria, Australia ($104)
This is so lifted, with an entire meadow's worth of spring and summertime flowers joined by peppercorns, black and red berry fruit, and orange oils. These precede a palate of structure, generosity, and elegance, with precisely balanced acidity providing a spine against which flavors of red and black raspberries, blood oranges, goji berries, red licorice, sun-warmed rocks, and scorched earth vibrate on the tongue. This is a world-class Shiraz.
2019 Optik Syrah Block No. 49A Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara County ($45)
Very ripe, with warm wild strawberries and rhubarb compote cut with floral peppercorn, leather, and tapenade flavors. This is a full-throttle Syrah that still manages to find a nice sense of balance, and the vanilla notes of the finish are a great counterpoint to the more savory character of the mid-palate. If I had another bottle, I wouldn't be patient enough to lay it down for any length of time, though you certainly can.
2017 Out East Hermitage Rhône Valley, France ($90)
This collaboration between Out East and Cave de Tain is silky and rich, with olive tapenade, cracked white peppercorns, and the suggestion of paprika balanced by plums and plum pits, black currants, cocoa powder, and deeply roasted coffee beans. Balancing acidity sweeps in on the finish, making this particularly well-suited to the table.
2017 Qupé Syrah Bien Nacido Hillside Estate Santa Maria Valley ($41)
Dusty tannins propel red berries and pink peppercorns, all of it acid-seamed and vivid. This energetic red ends on a nicely salty note that demands food, perhaps a nice strip steak grilled on charcoal.
2018 Ram's Gate Syrah Hyde Vineyard, Carneros ($70)
Full of bright, mouthwatering red fruit—raspberries, cranberries, goji berries—alongside tamarind paste, blood oranges, and rooibos, this Syrah shows the more refreshing side of the variety without losing any of the savory, spicy characteristics that often anchor the best of them. Fantastic energy here, and the elegant tannic structure promises a decade of evolution. No need to wait, though.
2015 Ramey Rodgers Creek Vineyard Syrah Petaluma Gap, Sonoma Coast ($65)
Savory and layered, with aromas of beef bouillon, plum pits, coriander, and cracked peppercorns, this co-fermented blend of 92% Syrah and 8% Viognier is deliciously true to its Northern Rhone inspirations. The palate is just as savory, with a food-friendly salinity to the beef, bone broth, venison, black cherries, plums, and tapenade flavors. A punch of acidity runs through the long, generous finish, promising at least another 10 years of evolution.
2014 Red Car Estate Vineyard Syrah Fort Ross – Seaview, Sonoma County ($52)
Practically vibrating with spice, this speaks of ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, and raspberries before still-assertive but resolving tannins turn it all in the direction of cherry pipe tobacco, grilled nectarines, and blood oranges. So lively and mouthwatering: This is in a great place right now.
2015 Ridge Lytton Estate Syrah Dry Creek Valley ($40)
This Syrah, with 7% Viognier, plumbs the depths of complexity as soon as you sniff it: Smoked beef, scorched earth, Amarena cherries, and star anise are almost impossibly complex, and set the stage for a palate of ripe, sweet black plums, figs, blackberries, cassis, hoisin sauce, melted dark chocolate, and floral peppercorns. A spine of minerality runs up the middle, anchoring it all and providing a jumping-off point for all that follows.
2018 Scotty-Boy "Big Tang" Syrah Santa Barbara County ($28)
What an absolutely wild nose, in the best possible sense: Aromas of mashed sesame, coriander seeds, charred orange peels, cherry pits, licorice root, and horse radish that tee up a wonderful palate, bright with acidity and electric with tamarind paste, oranges, kumquats, strawberry fruit roll-ups, grilled pork, caramelized pineapples, and a finish of dry-toasted fennel seeds. Grown in White Hawk Vineyard and with 451 days on the skins, bottled unfined, unfiltered, and without any sulfur added. Remarkable.
2017 Shafer "Relentless" Napa Valley ($95)
Crafted from 86% Syrah and 14% Petite Sirah, this is a phenomenal bottle of wine, with mouthwatering acidity cutting through blackberry liqueur, bonfire, spice-rubbed bacon, and blood orange. A seam of tobacco and chocolate adds even greater depth, and the finish lingers with star anise, cardamom, pipe tobacco, and plum conserve. Now or after a decade stint in the cellar, this is going to be a treat.
2012 Sparkman "Ruckus" Syrah Red Mountain, Washington ($45)
Meaty yet with enough brambly fruit to balance it out, this is rich in umami, threaded with mineral, and still showing plenty of ripe brambly berry fruit alongside the more pronounced savory notes of bottle age. And it has another five to seven years to go if you want to wait that long. Personally, I'd drink it now.
2017 Story of Soil Syrah, Duravita Vineyard, Santa Barbara ($48)
Distinctly Rhône-like, sizzling with cracked peppercorns, bacon, and plum pits that all leap from the glass, and prepare the palate for a deeply mineral, leather-flecked and savory wine that manages to find the razor's edge between power and energy. Flavors of demi-glace and roasted marrow bones finish in unexpected notes of violets, lavender, and brambly berries. Very mineral, and with excellent acid balance against the lengthy tannins.
2017 Wrath Syrah KW Ranch Santa Lucia Highlands ($39)
This whole-cluster fermented Syrah is ripe with kirsch and crème de cassis, dense on the palate, and flecked with mineral, yet has enough peppercorn spice to keep it all lively. There is a nice core of melted chocolate through it all.
2016 Yangarra "Ironheart" Shiraz McLaren Vale, Australia ($100)
Estate-grown in northern McLaren Vale, this is excellent, with iron filings and black tea amped with blackberries, blueberries, and camphor. These find a counterpoint on the palate in flavors of blackberries, kirsch, seriously structuring and mineral-flecked tannins, and a finish marked by more of that camphor. Needs time, but will be wonderful. Drink 2025 – 2045+.