Top 15 Syrahs for Grilling

For spice, smoke, and sympathy for the grill, try these $50-and-under Syrahs


Carnivores and grillers, a few reasons to love Syrah: it’s a fantastic wine for pairing with any roasted meats, especially red meats like beef and lamb, as well as wild game. It is often peppery and sometimes smoky, with a roasted fruit and/or roasted meat flavor profile that makes it a fine accompaniment to anything barbecued or grilled (even, ahem, vegetables of all kinds). It also tends to be a relative value, as high quality bottles can be found for as low as $20 to $35.
The following timely list highlights my top choices for Syrahs priced at less than $50, cherry-picked out of several hundred recent vintage Syrahs tasted over the past year. This includes wines primarily from cooler locations in California, like the Sonoma Coast and Santa Barbara County, as well as a South African Syrah and a Syrah-based Côtes-du-Rhône from one of the greatest producers in France’s Rhône region.
The rankings below are based first on my score. Then for those wines ranked, for example, at 93 points, I’ve listed the lower priced wines first. As you’ll see, there are a lot of relative bargains on this list: some very tasty, savory Syrahs, as low as $23 for one from Santa Barbara County’s Ballard Canyon area, which is a very up and coming location for distinctive Syrahs that you can expect to be hearing a lot more about in the coming years. And for a 95-point Syrah, the Dierberg at $34 is hard to beat. So find your favorite among my favorites, and get grilling!
Tasting Notes
1. Dierberg Syrah
Dierberg is a very impressive project founded by Jim and Mary Dierberg with the purchase and planting of their first vineyard in Santa Barbara County in 1997. Andy Alba, who has been on the winemaking team since the first vintage in 2001, is now the lead winemaker. This is simply an awesome wine that represents a terrific value for its quality at $34. You can enjoy it by itself, but it would be a memorable pairing with grilled steak or lamb.
Opaque, black-tinged purple red violet color; very appealing, roasted plum, black fruit, black pepper, espresso nose; rich, delicious, roasted black fruit, pepper, violets palate with good acidity; needs two to three years; long finish. 14.5% alcohol. 95 points
2. Saxon Brown
Jeff Gaffner is the owner/winemaker of Saxon Brown, which he started in 1997 as a showcase for favorite vineyard sites. He learned winemaking under Richard Arrowood at Chateau St. Jean, and has since gone on to become a sought after consulting winemaker.
Very dark ruby color; appealing, tart blackberry, tart black fruit, tar, black pepper, white pepper nose; tasty, roasted black fruit, black pepper, tar, violets, tart berry palate with depth; long finish. Shiraz clone 1 with 3-4% Viognier and a little Marsanne and Roussanne to help set color. 94 points

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  • Snooth User: dpcowboy
    1276710 22

    I like the list, but have to wonder if these wineries all pay for their presence on the list (in one way or another). the reason I say that is that several great California Syrahs under $50, universally recognized, are not on this list....hmmm...

    Apr 26, 2013 at 4:04 PM

  • Snooth User: Ehulani
    1060270 4

    Can anyone tell me about "Signorello Estate Syrah 2010?" I received a bottle as a gift and I usually drink Pinot Grigio, so I have no idea what to expect. Any comments or suggestions? Any idea what this bottle is valued at? Thank you

    Apr 26, 2013 at 4:09 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 8,288

    Again, a very interesting list that includes some favorites and opens my eyes to new possibilities. Also, I am, again, surprised to see many examples from California's Central Coast. Yippee, more wines that I might actually be able to find.

    Dpcowboy, go over to the Snooth Forum and you will find several fans of Syrah (including EMark). Please feel free to start a new thread and let us know what your favorites are. Always looking for something new.

    Ehulani, I went to the Signorello web site (, visited their "Wine Shop" page and found out that they are currently selling their 2010 Syrah for $48. Here are their notes:

    "Our estate Syrah vineyard was planted in 1992 and is located on the Silverado Trail in the Oak Knoll district. Crafted in traditional Northern Rhone style, we add a small amount of Viognier for added complexity.

    "This inky black Syrah opens with notes of white pepper and clove. The palate explides [sic--obviously, the i is much too close to the o on somebody's keyboard] with black fruit, nuances of kahlua, and surprisingly soft tannins".

    Needless to say, this is nothing like Pinot Grigio, However, in my opinion anybody who gifted me with a wine like this would immediatey move up several notches in my list of friends. ;-) Aloha.

    Apr 26, 2013 at 5:53 PM

  • Snooth User: Ehulani
    1060270 4

    Mahalo for your quick and knowledgeable input. Yes, I see I was quite lucky to get this. will enjoy it with the Prime Rib I plan on making very soon. Aloha!

    Apr 26, 2013 at 6:12 PM

  • Snooth User: bopahyland
    222403 17

    Where are the wines with every day prices that we can all afford? Please start including them in your reviews.

    Apr 26, 2013 at 6:46 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,006

    Bopahyland (hope I typed that right), I get your drift. Remember, these are all 90+ wines, really the best things out there. If you order from Halcon by the case, the price goes down to $20. It's tough to get things that are really outstanding much below that. But it is possible. Look for wines that come from places not associated with Syrah, like the Cortona area of Italy. Or, for a different style, there's some reasonable Shiraz from Autralia. Also vin de pays from areas of France outside the usual N. Rhone AOCs., like Collines Rhodaniennes. Finally, a good and widely available Syrah from California under $20 (usually $14 to $15) is the Cline Cool Climate.
    $18 on their website, but often available elsewhere for less.

    Apr 27, 2013 at 4:11 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 8,288

    Prime Rib!!! Ah, yes. the traditional luau feast. I'm sorry, Ehulani, I just had to pull your leg a bit. That wine should go spectacularly well with prime rib. Enjoy.

    Bopahyland, adding on to Foxall's comments, I am becoming more impressed with Syrah from Edna Valley. In the "low dollar" category, Edna Valley Vineyard's "Paragon" Syrah is farily easy to find for about $10. Make no mistake, it is not a 90-point wine, but it is a decent, everyday kind of wine.

    Apr 27, 2013 at 5:38 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,006

    Couple other good deals: Lafond SRH Syrah can be had from Totalwine for about $18. Invino and LastBottle have two different Maclaren Syrahs for $20 and $14, respectively. (If you go to Invino, it will say the wine has an average rating of 92.5 on CT; one of the two reviews on CT is mine--it's the lower of them. Two reviews is technically enough for an average, but is it meaningful?)

    Apr 29, 2013 at 2:46 PM

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