I like Syrah but, for the most part, I prefer when it's blended with a healthy dose of Grenache. That (along with a few other grapes) is what you get with a southern Rhone red. Grenache makes a fruit forward, softer style wine while Syrah brings a little muscle and depth to the blend. Together they make a great late-spring, early-summer barbecue red.
2014 Chateau de Segries Cotes du Rhone, $15
In this blend, Grenache leads off (50 percent), followed by Syrah (30 percent), and equal parts Cinsault and Carignan. The floral aromas are marked by dusty rose, spicy raspberry and ripe cranberry. It opens with beautiful red fruit flavors, balanced by a core of ripe tannins and soft acidity. Finishes with creamy blackberry and pepper.
2013 Domaine d'Andezon Cote-du-Rhone, $16
Syrah (backed by Grenache) dominates this wine made by a cooperative in a small town near Avignon. The nose is a mix of cherry, raspberry and blueberry with touches of spice and sweet balsamic. The bright cherry and creamy blueberry on the palate is backed by earthy oak and black pepper. Soft tannins come through on the long finish.
2014 Morgan Cotes du Crow's, $17
This ringer from Monterey, Calif., a blend of 53 percent Grenache and 47 percent Syrah, made the cut. The complex array of aromas are a mix of strawberry, buttery oak, pepper and soft cherry with a kiss of chocolate. The California terroir is unmistakable in this fruit forward, user friendly wine. You get ripe cherry and berry fruit flavors, a silky texture and a food friendly hit of acidity on the finish.