On his suggestion, we looked around for a comparable French Syrah to do a taste test. We found a good one...Massane 2002 Syrah from the Montpellier region. The Cline bottle was also a 2002 vintage so we thought this would be a fair comparison. The Cline was $17.95 while the Massane was a steal at $11.95.
Once we arrived home, I chilled them slightly so they would be at the optimal tasting temperature. I got out 4 identical tasting glasses and didn't let J know which one was which. Then we tasted. YUMMY! Both were very similar in style, body and texture. Silently, I picked the Cline as standing out. It had a bit more complexity and was a bit smoother on the palate. J also picked the Cline as his preferred one. I asked him to guess which one he thought it was. He assumed French, and was mildly surprised that it wasn't. We enjoyed both bottles immensely. The Massane is such a good deal that I would highly recommend it as well. I would be fun to compare the 2002 Cline with the 2003 Massane because of the very, very hot summer they had in France.
Hmmmm, maybe that could be for another night.