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Recommendations

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sequel Syrah 2005
***
Columbia Valley, Washington, $60

The color is deep but not opaque, and new oak barrels dominate the aromas, though they do not conceal the very fine fruit within. Produced by the former winemaker of Penfolds Grange, this has some of the mint and eucalyptus notes of its Australian cousin. It is delicious, long, complex and tight. It will reward several years' aging, but if you can't wait, decant a few hours before drinking.

Monument in the District and Maryland: available in the District at Whole Foods Market P Street, Wine Specialist; on the list at Capitol Grille, Matisse, Proof. Kysela in Virginia: available at Balducci's in Alexandria, Cecile's in McLean.

Dutton Goldfield Cherry Ridge Vineyard Syrah 2004/2005
** 1/2
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, $38

This stylish wine comes from a region better known for chardonnay and pinot noir. It is surprisingly light in body and texture, with enticing blueberry fruit, a hint of cake spice and impressively refreshing acidity. The 2005 should arrive here soon.

Bacchus: available in the District at Pearson's.

Ridge "Lytton West" Syrah 2005
** 1/2
Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California, $40

This nearly opaque wine shows nice floral aromas from 6 percent Viognier in the blend, a typical addition in Cote Rotie, in the northern Rhone. The wine is deep but refreshing, with meaty, leafy, blueberry and clove notes spinning in the glass.

RNDC: available in the District at Calvert Woodley, MacArthur Beverages, Paul's of Chevy Chase, Pearson's; on the list at Hook, Smith & Wollensky.

Alex Sotello Cellars Leveroni Vineyard Syrah 2005
**
Sonoma Valley, California, $30

Of the wines I tasted, this was the most Rhonelike, similar to a Crozes-Hermitage. It features smoked meat, violets, green olive and tea, plus a whiff of what wine lovers call "barnyard."

Elite Wines: available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Food Matters in Alexandria, Vienna Vintner in Vienna, the Wine Seller in Herndon; on the list at Majestic Cafe in Alexandria, Mio in the District.

Charles Smith Wines Boom Boom! Syrah 2006/2007
**
Columbia Valley, Washington, $22

There's a lot going on in the glass, yet this wine remains perfectly balanced, with tons of fruit and a hint of vanilla. The alcohol provides appropriate structure without being too noticeable. The wine continues to improve after opening, suggesting that it will age well for a few years. The 2007 should arrive here soon. The same winery produces quite good single-vineyard syrahs under the K Syrah label.

Country Vintner: available in the District at Best Cellars, U Street Mini Mart; available in Virginia at Classic Wines in Great Falls, Iron Bridge Wine in Warrenton, Leesburg Vintner in Leesburg, the Vineyard in McLean; on the list at Evening Star Cafe and Ramparts in Alexandria.

Novelty Hill Syrah 2005
**
Columbia Valley, Washington, $22

Made by Mike Januik, former winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle, this wine is concentrated, with lush texture but also taut structure and a mineral core throughout. In the glass, it develops nice aromas of violets and orange peel.

Elite Wines: available in the District at Dean & DeLuca; available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, Food Matters in Alexandria, Vienna Vintner in Vienna, the Wine Seller in Herndon; on the list at Majestic Cafe in Alexandria, Charlie Palmer Steak and Mio in the District.

J. Lohr South Ridge Syrah 2005
*
Paso Robles, Calif., $13

A nice, clean syrah, with fine balance, this wine suggests an American Cote du Rhone. It's a fun wine for casual sipping with everyday fare.

RNDC: available in the District at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Harris Teeter; on the list at Sequoia.

KEY

*** Exceptional

** Excellent

* Very good

Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through the distributor.

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