Heavy-handed treatment of Zinfandel has left American palates lusting for big wines that don't blow you away, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher write in the Wall Street Journal. Syrahs from Washington state—which has more than 550 wineries—have replaced Zins as "the most exciting red wines being made in America today," write Gaiter and Brecher. Although made in limited quantities, these rising stars are popping up on shelves more often.
The standouts in a blind tasting: Dunham Cellars 2004 ("intellectual yet brawny") and Owen Roe "Ex Umbris" 2006 ("big, explosive, very American wine"). "The ones that get it right are sleek and graceful despite their size. The ones that don't are vulgar and coarse and muddled," Gaiter said after a tasting. "But it's exciting. There's a sense of exploration. I feel like I'm on a journey of exploration with them." (Read more wine stories.)