Wine review: Mandolin Syrah 2009

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This is a good news and bad news wine. The good news is that it’s a tremendous value, another Mandolin wine that is much better than its price. The bad news? Availability, of course. It’s not sold in the Dallas area, and its Texas distributor is small with limited capabilities. And, given the way the wine world works, if that happens in a market as important as this one, that means the Mandolin is likely to be difficult to find elsewhere.

Which is wrong. The syrah ($10, sample) is a wine that deserves to be in lots and lots of stores. It’s impressive — balanced and varietally correct, with just enough berry fruit to be fruity but not to be annoying. In this, there is acid to balance the fruit, which almost never happens with this style of wine, as well as a touch of oak and even some tannins, both of which provide even more balance.

Which, again, are two items that are rarely done well in wine from this part of California that costs $10. There is either way too much oak, to cover up a flaw or to give it a fake-y chocolate taste, or no tannins, to make the wine “smooth” and to appeal to people who don’t like red wine. In fact, one reason why I don’t drink much of this kind of wine is that it doesn’t taste like wine, but something designed by a focus group.

Serve this wine on its own or with a weekend or holiday meal featuring beef or roast chicken (and yes, even for the holiday that must not be named). Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2013 $10 Hall of Fame.


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