First the miss (just a slight miss) -
Treana Central Coast 'Mer Soleil Vineyard' '01 ($23). This big 'un is 39% Marsanne and 61% Viognier. Smells delicious - apricot, peach, honey, flowers. Yet, as a food wine it's a bit overthetop. That said; it's a-OK by itself. The reason? Full-body, lots of alcohol, and lowish acidity. It clashed with my meal, but was perfectly fine (and mouthiflling) as a solo sip.
Now the Hit -
Montes Alpha Syrah, '00 ($17). Not an XL Syrah; yet not a wimp by any means. One of my favorite Chileans to date. Black plums, pepper, and some sweet spice. Solidly balanced in the mouth with pro-food tannins and a luxurious finish. Would that more sub-$20 Syrahs could be so lovely.