This Ojai syrah is yet another example of the recession helping consumers. When it was released a couple of years ago, list price was $55. Search the cyber ether today, and you'll find it for as little as $35.
Which is quite a value, since the wine wasn't especially overpriced at $55. That's because I've always been impressed by Ojai, a small, family-owned producer on the Central Coast that makes wines that avoid many of the pitfalls of its more famous brethren in Napa and Sonoma. They're balanced and relatively moderate, yet still showcase the rich fruit that California is famous for.
The syrah (sample) is a complex wine that will only get better as it ages, and it should do that quite nicely over the next four or five years. It offers the classic syrah aroma of bacon fat at first sniff, but that gives way over time to dark berry fruit. The wine itself is ripe and juicy (blackberry, perhaps?) and its finish is long and steady, without any of the overly pronounced tannins that similarly-priced syrahs and shirazes have. This is red meat wine as the weather turns cooler, something to drink with a special Saturday night dinner.