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