Jeff’s Corner 8-11-17

Petite Sirah is my very favorite red grape.  I have to say this again, a little louder, Petite Sirah is my very favorite red grape!   I like it because it is dark, brooding, mysterious, moody, morose, and extremely  romantic.  Petite Sirah is like Hamlet, only darker and more complex.

Son of Syrah, Petite Sirah came to life one chilly March day around 1862 in the nursery of Dr. Francois Durif in the Rhone Valley of France.  Pollen from a Syrah vine had its way with some flowers on a neighboring Peloursin vine, and the bastard Petite was born.

Poor Petite, however, had a confusing youth.  Debate about his lineage raged for over a century, and it wasn’t until 1997 when DNA fingerprinting at UC Davis, along with Jerry Springer, concluded that, “Syrah, you are the Daddy!”

Anyhow, all this silliness brings us to how lucky I am today to write about the release of our 2015 (you guessed it) Petite Sirah.  It’s a great example of a grape that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

The color is an intensely dark purple/violet (textbook for a well extracted Petite), and when turned on its side the hue in the deep part of the bowl is impenetrable.  It is 100 % Petite Syrah, with an ABV of 13.5%.

Just out of the bottle, the aroma is very rustic and earthy, dominated by layers of ripe blueberry, blackberry, and black raspberry.  After 10-15 minutes in the glass the fruit becomes laced with black pepper, clove, cinnamon, licorice, and hints of spearmint.

The palate shows a round, soft mouthfeel with lively acids that compliment the richness of the fruit.  With moderate oak and tannin our new Petite features a soft, elegant finish that makes the wine accessible and easy to drink.

Here’s a pretty cool photo I thought you might enjoy from the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.  This is the grid on which our scores are recorded for the 12 wines in each round.  There were 34 wines in that Petite Sirah flight, and it was our favorite flight in the 3 days of judging.  Our panel was monitored by the incredible Ginny Barnett, responsible for the very sweet and personal touch on the scoreboard.

Next week we’ll check out the new 2016 Viognier.