PICK of the RACK: Corralitos Vineyards and Winery | Syrah | Santa Cruz Mountains | Santa Cruz County | California | 2012 | $18 | 91 pts

Corralitos 4Corralitos Vineyards & Winery is the second label of Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery, owned and operated by Richard and Mary Kay Alfaro on the south side of Santa Cruz County just a few miles inland from Monterey Bay. Their 2012 Syrah, produced from fruit sourced from local vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation, is a spirited rendition of the variety. On the nose are aromas of brandied fruit, smoked meat, and bitters; and on the palate, flavors of ripe raspberry, clove, and jasmine tea, with flourishes of cola and candied ginger unfolding on a tangy finish. Earthy impressions of crushed stone and spicy oak lend harmony and dimension. The wine is medium-bodied, with friendly tannins and high-toned acids that bring freshness to palate — an appealing expression of the vineyards’ proximity to the sea. This Syrah offers remarkable quality and personality at an approachable price…and how can you not be charmed by that label? What a terrific discovery. Serve it to friends with medium to sharp cheeses, cured meats, barbecued or grilled meats, and other hearty fare. (13.5% ABV)

Availability: We discovered this wine at Altura Wine & Gourmet in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, just steps off historic King Street. To inquire about this wine, visit them virtually at www.alturawinegourmet.com or, if you are in the area, drop-in for a visit at 108 N. Patrick Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314. Proprietors Edgar Salinas and Ana Gonzalez have assembled a thoughtful inventory of fine wines and craft beers, and offer complimentary tastings on Friday and Saturday afternoons.

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