- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Cline, Syrah, Sonoma County, 2000, $14

Syrah, increasingly the rage in California, was once thought to be a grape that grows well only in warm, even hot locations. Increasingly, though, syrahs from cooler climes are attracting attention. Richly fruited, they tend to exhibit a well-defined structure and good balance and so seem graceful, as well as sumptuous.

Cline’s Sonoma County Syrah is a fine example. The grapes for this wine come from the southern end of the Sonoma Coast appellation, a region noted for holding the cool ocean fog long into the day. The result: grapes with a higher level of acidity than those grown farther inland.

Temperatures considered cool in California would be judged hot in France’s northern Rhone Valley, home to the world’s most expressive syrahs. Perhaps not surprisingly, this wine seems stylistically more akin to a French rendition than an Australian bottling. Medium-bodied, it is marked by ripe fruit and secondary notes of pepper and spice.

Drink this syrah with fairly robust pork, veal or beef dishes. It would be a good wine to have on hand for a Memorial Day barbecue.

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