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WBW 40: Petite Sirah

WBW 40: Petite Sirah

by Tim Elliott on December 12, 2007

This month’s host, Sonadora from Wannabe Wino, picked one of my favorite varietals for this month’s virtual tasting: Petite Sirah. This grape is originally from France where it’s known as Durif, a name also commonly used in Australia for the variety today. According to Jancis Robinson’s “Oxford Companion to Wine” now resting in my lap, DNA research in California linked the name Petite Sirah with four varieties: Durif, Syrah, Peloursin and a Peloursin + Durif crossing. But today I think all that is sorted out and Petite Sirah in California is actually all Durif.

I think I’ve always loved Petite Sirah because of it’s connection with Zinfandel. In the century old vines of Sonoma, Petite Sirah is often found inter-planted with Zin to make the field blends I love, such as Ridge Lytton Springs. It’s tannins backbone and soft fruit help to bolster Zinfandel and transform the result into something more complex. Another reason I like this variety so much is the best examples are pure fruit bombs.

So I was really looking forward to tasting a few examples of this variety this month. As luck would have it, I received some samples from Foppiano Vineyards, a name like Concannon closely linked with Petite Sirah. My other selection was from a producer I’ve never heard of before but will seek out from my tasting this evening.

Tasting Notes:

Foppiano Petite Sirah 2004Foppiano Vineyards, Petite Sirah, Russian River Valley 2004 ($23/sample) – Dark black-purple in color with aromas of blueberry, plum and licorice. Soft black currant and blackberry flavors with pepper and spices finishing with firm tannins. Textbook Petite Sirah but could use some time in the bottle to soften those tannins.

14.6% ABV
Natural cork closure
Score: 88
Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy this wine online

Peltier Station Petite Sirah 2005Peltier Station Winery, Petite Sirah, Lodi 2005 ($18) – Dark purple-black in color with aromas of boysenberry, black raspberry, bacon and fennel. Rich and massive blackberry and blueberry fruit with cracked black pepper, medium tannins and a bit of minerality & sweet caramel on the finish. A blockbuster Pet that I’ll be cellaring to see what happens.

14.8% ABV
Natural cork closure
Score: 90
Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy this wine online

Thanks again to Sonadora for an excellent theme this month. Join us next time when we’ll be exploring an underrated region of Italy.

  • I also tasted the Foppiano and couldn’t drink it the first day. I found the tannins to be a bit out of control (perhaps just my own tastes). On day 3, however, it was not bad – had loosened up quite a bit. I actually had to double-check because I thought I’d poured myself a glass from a different bottle.

  • Thanks for participating Tim. I like the sounds of your second bottle, I think you and one other blogger tasted it for this WBW. Glad you are another PS fan, I still think it’s an unsung wine!

  • Tim

    Carol: I agree the tannins are pretty closed now so decanting is a must. I taste over 2 or 3 days and my notes are a composite of my experience with each wine.

    Sonadora: Thanks for hosting!

  • JC

    Glad you enjoy the wine. Stop by if you are ever in the vicinity.


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