Petite Sirah, its the purple in Purple Lips
(*Still unable to attach pictures, sorry)
The theme for my tasting group this last week was Petite Sirah, one of my favorite Varietals. It's what I was drinking when I came up with the name of this blog. Don't be fooled by its name(a.k.a. Duriff), there is nothing petite about this varietal. It got its name because it has smaller berries than its father in the Rhone Valley, Syrah(Petite Sirah is a cross between Peloursin and Syrah). These smaller berries, however, provide a larger skin to juice ratio giving the resulting wine more color and unless made properly a whole lot of chalky tannin. These qualities made Petite Sirah a perfect blender for Syrah in the Rhone and Zinfandel in California. For a quick history of the varietal from the Petite Sirah Advocate group, "P.S. I Love You", click here.
I love Petite Sirah because it is a varietal that is very friendly to today's average consumer who might like it for it's fruit forward, to-die-for aromas but it is also interesting and complex enough for those real winos who need some depth in their glass. In our group, we tasted eight Petite Sirahs, all of them from California where most varietal Petite Sirah is grown, although I hear that Argentina has quite a lot of acreage planted to Petite Sirah too. The top four finishers are listed below with tasting notes.
1. Guenoc, North Coast, 2002
This Petite got first place overall with 5 people out of 8 giving putting it in the number one spot. What set this Petite apart from the rest was the palate. Not too harsh and full bodied. Soft tannin covers not just the back of the palate as the varietal is meant to do, but also the front and mid palate too. Aromas of mocha, sweet vanilla and Christmas pudding showcase the oak aging accompanied by the ripe plum and raisin varietal character with some hints of fresh mint and peppercorn. Good acidity follows the smooth palate with a nice long finish. It’s a crowd pleaser and at about $17.00 it’s a great value if you are a Petite Sirah fan.
2. Bogle, Clarksburg, 2004
We were surprised to see this wine end up so high in the ranks because of its fantastic price. $9.00 should be enough to by this wine and at that price why not get two? The nose offered up plenty of ripe Petite characters with a hint of saw dust and cedar. The body on this was comparable to the Guenoc with nice soft tannins giving way to a long finish. This is a well made wine at a fantastic price point, it’s Bogle’s forte.
3. David Bruce, Central Coast, 2004
One of the bigger names in Petite Sirah, this wine was also very ripe giving a sweet cotton candy aroma on the nose supported by the usual jammy berry fruit. The palate also showed its ripeness with a bit of a weak mid palate but with good tannin on the finish. Honestly, I expected a bit more from this wine since the price tag is $25.00. The group liked it more than I did.
4. Vinum “Pets”, Clarksburg, Wilson Vineyard, 2004
This is a popular sell and I liked it more than the group as a whole did. They source all the fruit from Wilson Vineyards in Clarksburg and give a portion of the proceeds to their local animal shelter. There is a cool dog the label that belongs to the Viticulturalist, Ken Wilson. Back to the wine. I liked this one because it was a bit different on the nose. I got a lot of ripe tangerine, geranium, and a candied fruit character not unlike Wine Gums, one of my favorite English candies. The mid palate wasn’t all there but of course the tannin caught up to the wine on the back of the palate. The long finish left me thinking of creamy strawberry and those Wine Gums. It’s a $14.00 wine here in GA but I know it sells for around $10 in CA.
5. Wilson Vineyards, Clarksburg, 2003- $10.00 *Previous Post*
6. Parducci, Mendocino County, 2003- $10.00
7. Jewel, California, 2003- $10.00
8. McManis, California, 2003- $13.00 (Unfortunately this wine was corked.)