By now it is probably common knowledge on this site that my favorite wine varietal is Syrah. I try my best to showcase other varietals on my Wine of The Month feature, but I always seem to find my way back to a Syrah at least once a quarter. The fact is, there are still so many affordable bottles of great Syrah out there (especially from Australia), and I end up drinking a lot of them. This month, I stumbled upon a Syrah that really caught my eye, as it exhibited an innovative flavor profile relative to what I am used to in this varietal. I also decided to feature another wine that has been featured here before, but continues to amaze me with its dependable quality and affordability year after year.

JIM BARRY SHIRAZ THE LODGE HILL CLARE VALLEY 2006, 90 Points, $16, 5000 Cases Produced

Juicy, minty fruit aromas. Flavors are up front and well-intertwined, with dark raspberry and red cherry leading into distinctive mint chocolate chip notes. Pepper and clove spice add complexity through the long length, leaving a finish of chocolate covered cherries and peppermints. Innovative and yummy stuff.

Also worth seeking out:

THORN-CLARKE SHOTFIRE SHIRAZ BAROSSA VALLEY 2006, 91 Points, $20, 15000 Cases Produced

From screw-cap, a first for this wine. Refined and well-balanced with aromas of dark plum, boysenberry, cinnamon spice and leather. Sleek, flavorful body of dark red fruits and licorice backed by sweet pepper, cinnamon spice and notes of mint and tobacco. Fruit lingers with great spicy texture, a leathery hint and fine tannins add complexity, fantastic again.

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