Carica Wines, 2010 Kick Ranch Sonoma County Syrah, 14.4 percent, $36, 4 stars.

An intense, full-bodied syrah with tasty black fruit. Aromas and flavors of blueberry, blackberry, herbs and cracked black pepper. Has great depth. Impressive.

Arrowood, 2011 Saralee's Vineyard, Russian River Valley Syrah, 13.5 percent, $30, 4 stars.

An impressive syrah with complexity. It has tasty aromas and flavors — black cherry, plum and a kick of cracked black pepper. Edgy.

Morgan, 2011 Monterey, Syrah-Grenache Rhone Blend, Cotes du Crows, 13.8 percent, $18, 4 stars.

The Rhone-style blend is balanced and has ripe tannins. It's layered, with notes of blackberry, cherry and dried apricot. The blend is 60 percent syrah and 40 percent grenache. Impeccably balanced.

Truchard Vineyards, 2011 Carneros, Napa Valley, Syrah, 14.3 percent, $30, 3 stars.

A jammy syrah with a range of fruit flavors — boysenberry, plum and cassis. It's also layered with notes of vanilla, mineral and white pepper. Tasty.

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 521-5310 or