Good news: Not only does the Morgan Cotes du Crow’s 2008, Monterey County, continue in the robust tradition of its predecessors, but it’s cheaper than it was in the last few vintages. Byron writes of “all that’s best of dark and bright” — he’s speaking of a woman, of course — and certainly this Rhone-inspired blend of 55 percent syrah and 45 percent grenache balances a clarity and brightness of fresh, ripe black cherries, black currants and plums with the smoky darkness of briers, new leather and mossy earthiness etched with gravel-like minerality. This is an appealing, spunky wine, robust, as I said, but not rustic; there are no rough edges here. A few minutes in the glass bring up notes of dried cherry, potpourri, lavender and licorice with an undercurrent of bitter chocolate; then rose petals, dried thyme and a scent and taste of black olive. Cotes du Crow’s 2008 aged 10 months in French oak, only 18 percent of the barrels new, so the influence of wood gently shapes and spices the wine, spreading its aura amongst ample yet deftly managed tannins. A twinge of austerity on the finish reminds us that these are serious grapes. 3,600 cases produced. Perfectly appropriate with grilled and braised meats, hearty soups and pasta dishes. Excellent. About $16.

A review sample.