Andrew Murray Vineyards Tous Les Jours Syrah 2013

andrew-murray-tous-les-jours-syrahFrom my current drool-filled dream state, I’m writing to you from a Los Olivos tasting room on a warm dusty day, belly tight with Santa Ynez Valley grape juice. You perhaps know the setting from filmed epics such as “Miles and Maya’s Excellent Adventure,” the glorious environs of Santa Barbara County, part of California’s Central Coast. It’s from here where, increasingly, the more credible and exciting California wines emerge.

The cooling “coastal range” effect is the benevolent force at play here, mixing with intense sunshine and vine-ready soils that make nice for vinifera grape varieties thriving on a blend of high acidity, moderate flavor intensity and balance. Think of Burgundy and Rhone varieties like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. You’re in the right place.

Santa Barbara County and places like Los Olivos and Buellton are also fantastic vacation destinations for wine lovers. Los Olivos, a short-ish drive from Santa Barbara, is an indelible day trip for its relaxed town center, restaurants and tasting rooms. It’s there you can find Andrew Murray Vineyards, and other exceptional producers (Qupe, Stolpman, Saarloos, Carhartt, Epiphany and many more), pouring wines you’ll never find outside the general area, never mind Pennsylvania.

Not to worry, though. Assuming your flight to the west coast is a ways off, I’m happy to report that the PLCB has delivered at least one Andrew Murray standout to our warm, sunny climes (just play along with me here; at least we don’t have a drought to contend with).

Now in stores: Andrew Murray Vineyards “Tous Les Jours” Syrah 2013 ($14.99), and it’s black pepper and smoke, black pepper and smoke. Actually, it’s much more but you may just get a gobful with your first slug. Without doubt, it’s a wine walking the line between oversize personality and humility – meaning it’s respectful of the palate, using a quiet force of flavor that steers wide of arrogant or pushy.

Allow me to share more adjectives.

Ponderous? Not this Syrah. Rather, it’s immediately fresh and alive despite its density, a boldly odorous (momentarily pleasurably stinky?) and varied package of flavors. I say package over “jumble” because there’s structure and skill at play, allowing the drinker to unfold the layers of the wine over a span of hours: Big blackberry, bramble, herbs, menthol, blackberry, charcoal, graphite, earth and blackberry.

This is a perfumed and elegant near-bruiser, confident in its strength and graceful for its size. The ol’ linebacker in a tutu analogy.

For the steak lover in your life, this is spot on the money.

Speaking of, the PLCB serves up a dead-on extraordinary value at $15. Astonishing, really, considering this is not Chairman’s Selection pricing, and it easily has the stuffing of a bottle priced $20 northward.

Oh, and for the non-francophiles reading along, tous les jours translates to “every day.” As in, well, you get it. And you could. And I just might.

14.5% alcohol by volume, Stelvin screw top.

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