2006 The Ojai Vineyard Syrah

Everything you want in a Central Coast Syrah -- ripe, beautiful fruit, wonderful balance and structure, flavors of dark, juicy berries, wild herbs and a touch of smoke. Adam Tolmach's 2006 Santa Barbara County Syrah is a stunner. One of the original Rhone Rangers, he's no newcomer to Syrah and has distilled everything he knows about the grape into his wine. A true artisanal winemaker, for the past few vintages, he's been blending the Syrah with a touch of Mourvèdre and Grenache to terrific effect.

It's the perfect 'cue wine, standing up to strong flavors and bold seasonings. But you'll taste more of the wine if you keep things somewhat subdued, or serve it with simple grilled lamb chops.

-- S. Irene Virbila

Region: Central Coast

Price: About $26

Style: Elegant and balanced

What it goes with: Barbecue, grilled lamb chops, steak

Where to find it: John and Pete's Fine Wines & Spirits in West Hollywood, (310) 657-3080, www.john; K&L Wine Merchants in Hollywood, (323) 464-9463, www.kl; Wally's Wine & Spirits in West Los Angeles, (310) 475-0606, www.wallywine; the Wine Country in Signal Hill, (562) 597-8303, www.thewine; and the Wine House in West Los Angeles, (310) 479-3731, www.winehouse. It is also available directly from the winery at www.ojaivineyard.