The grape: Syrah
The word: This variety bottled on its own may not be as popular as it once was, but it's still a great wine to have around.
In 1988, the late David Lake produced the first Syrah in Washington, but I remember it really began to gain prominence in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1990s. It seemed that you never could keep it in the cellar. I know I always ran out, falling in love with its hedonistic, berry jam flavors, smoky aromas, black pepper and gamy character.
It was something different than the standard Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots, and many fell under its spell. Consequently, it was hard to buy a Syrah for under $20 a bottle, and many were $30 to $50. But never fear, old Bargain Bob has found six Syrahs for $15 or less - and one for about $5.
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The match: I go to Natalie Maclean's website for some great match-ups. How about rabbit, lasagna, pizza, beef brisket or even a grilled cheese sandwich?
The bargains: Shop around and you can find similar prices.
Washington Hills 2006 Washington, $5: Not the best Syrah I've ever tasted, but it delivers for the price, offering pepper and spice with a raw meat-like aroma and juicy plum fruit.
Eliseo Silva 2007 Columbia Valley, $7: This is Tagaris Winery's second label but the Richland, Wash., winery didn't make it as a second-class wine. Smoky oak and sweet jam abound with a tasty, almost zippy boysenberry jam finish.
Barnard Griffin 2008 Columbia Valley, $12: Winemaker Rob Griffin always creates a satisfying wine regardless of cost, and this is no exception. Intense ripe fruit with cranberries and a hint of chocolate combine for a smooth and pleasing red.
W.B. Bridgman 2007 Columbia Valley, $10: From this old name in the wine industry comes an offering with dark berry color and oak in the background. It's juicy and really mellow.
Willow Crest 2006, Washington, $10: Made from the grapes grown on 25-year-old Yakima Valley vines, this one is aromatic with great acidity. Think of plums and blackberries, then oak.
Dusted Valley Vintners 2007 Boomtown Syrah, Columbia Valley $15: A nice wine from an award-winning Walla Walla winery. Well-made with toasty oak, a bit of chocolate and an onslaught of ripe berries on the palate.