Sunday, December 16, 2007

PhantaSm

Saturday and Sunday I had the Bogle Vineyards 2004 Phantom, which I got for about $14 at Trader Joe's, and have been waiting to try for a while.

Saturday night, I popped and poured. I had 2 glasses side-by-side, one in the Schott Zweisel Diva Bordeaux glass, and one in the Waterford Mondavi Syrah glass. This wine is 54% PS, 43% Old Vine Zin, and 3% Old Vine Mourvedre, so I wasn't sure which glass would go best.

However, the experiment didn't really have any result worth reporting. On the first night, it didn't taste great in either glass. The nose was very awkward, both hot and acidic, with some black cherries, blueberries, and cloves. The palate wasn't that much better, with a similar flavor profile, but had nice mouthfeel with soft, chewy, tannins and the fruits had a jammy, extracted, sense to them.

On the 2nd night, the remaining half-bottle was much better integrated and more balanced. As with any PS, I highly recommend a few hours of decanting, as the overnight helped the wine come together and increase the tannins, and I can only surmise that a few more years in the bottle or a while in a decanter would help even more.

Friday, December 14, 2007

WineBlogging Wednesday Wrapup

While I am not going to rePubliSh/copy/steal the exhaustive wrap-up that Sonadora, this month's hostess, did, I am going to point out some of the things that I learned:
  • Petite Sirah is also grown in Mexico (Baja California) and Chile (Maipo Valley)
  • There is an Israeli PS, the Barkan, that I haven't tried (though there's a store in Georgetown that carries a later vintage for somewhere around $10-15).
  • Vinquire samples 10 different Cali PS wines, but has the temerity to suggest that the wine "clearly doesn't stand on its own as a classic," though they patronizingly sniff that "the varietal has some potential." I can't say I'd heard of any of the PS they tasted, other than the admittedly entry-level Bogle and Concannon, but I have to side with Gary Vaynerchuck, who is much higher on those two (89 on the Concannon, not sub-84 like Vinquire). I think they might have had a different opinion if they'd (I feel like a broken record) decanted or allowed the wines to breathe, or even sit in the fridge for a few days. I am also curious as to what stemware they used.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

PS Raffled Off for a Good Cause

Gary Vaynerchuk, among many other wine and food bloggers, is participating in the 4th annual Menu for Hope, in which various wine-, food-, and cooking-related goods and services are being raffled off. Most of the PrizeS seem amazing, with Gary's "Me + $500 of wine + you + 7 friends, anywhere you want" probably among the most desired.

Just as PS is undervalued and under-appreciated in the market, directing your raffle tickets towards the PS-related PrizeS offered up will also likely offer greater statistical return than the more highly-touted offerings. Of course, I'm quite tempted to not publicize these so as to maximize my own chances of winning PS, but charity combined with my desire to exPoSe as many people as PoSsible to PS are winning out.

Jo Diaz, combining her roles as wine-blogger and communications director for PSILoveYou, has made available a mixed case of PS from 12 PSILoveYou members as their donation to Menu for Hope, with a value of at least $250 (and probably closer to $300 when you realize that shipping is on them!) -- prize code WB07. This case includes the following wines:
  • 2000 Concannon Vineyard Heritage, Livermore Valley
  • 2003 EOS Estate Winery, Paso Robles
  • 2004 Foppiano Vineyards, Russian River Valley Estate
  • 2003 Grizzly Flat, Lodi
  • 2002 Marr Cellars, Tehama Foothills, California
  • 2004 Mettler Family Vineyards, Lodi
  • 2005 Mounts Family Winery, Dry Creek Valley
  • 2004 Parducci “True Grit,” Mendocino (reviewed by themostrighteous, below)
  • 2003 Pedroncelli, Dry Creek Valley Family Vineyards
  • 2004 Silkwood, Modesto
  • 2002 Trentadue Winery, Alexander Valley
  • 2005 Twisted Oak, Calaveras County
In addition, Simply Recipes is offering a half-case of the highly-touted Quixote 2004 Petite Sirah, valued at $210 (again not including shipping). (reviewed by Gary Vaynerchuk in Episode 161, link in the right-hand column), under prize code WB08. More details about this delicious wine, including information about the winery and links to some tasting notes/reviews are available at the Simply Recipes post announcing the prize.

Wow, is it Wine-Blogging Wednesday Already?

Hey everybody, it's Wine-Blogging Wednesday! I'm your [primary] host, Loweeel! Welcome to the Blog about all things even tangentially related to Petite Sirah, the greatest grape on earth, which just so happens to make the biggest, most age-worthy, most delicious wines ever.

In addition to all my PreviouS blog PostS here on the PSychos' Path, I have some special reviews for you folks.

First up is the 2004 Concannon PS Limited Release (California, Central Coast; tasted 12/10/07), which, despite its somewhat confusing name, is actually Concannon's most widely-produced and widely-available PS from the '04 vintage, and was favorably reviewed by Gary Vaynerchuk in Episode 161. I actually consumed this somewhat spur-of-the-moment, because a friend (who I have been trying to get into wine) was over and interested in drinking a little bit of something other than beer. As usual, this wine had its characteristic nose and palate of red fruits. However, unlike my usual practice, I neither (intially) decanted it (as PS usually requires) nor served it at actual room temperature, instead serving it at ~56 Fahrenheit. Both were mistakes.

This wine, while potentially delicious and food-friendly (especially at $11@ WL) and a great entry-level PS, needs a little bit of massaging to reach its full potential. Serve it at no less than 58-60 degrees, and definitely decant it first. (I consumed out of Waterford Mondavi Syrah stemware.) This wine needs to breathe the oxygen in the air to let its acidity settle down, its tannins integrate back in, and its fruit to take its rightful but not forward place. Otherwise, it's consistent with my PreviouS notes -- well-balanced tannins, great red fruits (cassis, cranberry, black cherry, black raspberry), and a steal at $11. I wouldn't necessarily drink it on its own, but it's not SO overpowering that it requires food (especially not grilled meat), unlike, say...

The Lorca 1999 Petite Sirah Napa Valley ($23 @ WL, no longer available there; tasted 12/11/07) is the oldest vintage PS that I can find on the shelves without too much difficulty. As befits an older PS, its fruit is more hidden and it is much more cranky. This was the wine that changed the most, and not in the same way over the night. For tasting this, I was joined by my friend Aileen, a fellow wine.wooter; we had both this and the next wine both with grilled steak and with clean PalateS. and at first sat open for about 90 minutes before first consumption.

Initially, this wine smelled of cassis, going to cherry, which matched its dark ruby red color. It felt somewhat round in the mouth, with a not-unpleasant sour kick on the long finish. We discovered that the long finish was in large part due to our consumption of steak and theorized that the taste ParticleS were binding to the meat residue on our palates; after drinking water, the wine neither had such a long finish nor was particularly PleaSant at first, with the pepper notes predominating. The non-fruit tasting elements also consisted of black pepper and hints of leather. While not particularly soft nor fruit-forward, the fruits were sharp across the center of the mouth. After sitting while we sampled wine #2 of this evening, the return to this wine was initially smelled almost like a shot of pomegranate vodka. After some serious swirling, it settled down and was PerhapS better integrated than at any prior point over the evening. Once again, this shows that you're much more likely to go wrong with not decanting a PS than you are with decanting it, and that PS often stands for "PreferS Steaks".

The 2nd and final PS we had this evening was the Michael-David 2004 Earthquake PS (California, Lodi; sampled 12/11/07), which was reviewed by Gary Vaynerchuk in the Petite Sirah Taste-Off Episode 284 and labeled as a "pazzzz". I think that Gary's unfavorable review was in part due to his practice of merely opening the bottles for an hour or so prior to tasting rather than decanting as the massive PS demands throughout its lifecycle.

This wine had some of the coolest labeling I've seen. Initially, it looked like blueberry juice when sampled out of my Schott Zweisel Diva Bordeaux stems, which was pretty amazing in and of itself. The nose was a creamy mix of blueberries, blackberries, and light PlumS with hints of ultra-soft leather. Unlike the Lorca, this is not a wine that requires food. It tasted very extracted, blueberry/blackberry syrup, almost jammy, but very round... approaching blueberry liqueur. The tannins were not particularly pronounced, but they started to appear at the end. Like the Lorca, we did not decant this, though it "breathed" in-bottle for about 2 hours prior to consumption.

This one was definitely the favorite of the night. Aileen, a big merlot fan, liked its fruit, while I liked the structure on top of the fruit. This one might be a bit too fruity for the biggest, gamiest, grilled meats, but wow, was it delicious. It was not particularly complex or multi-layered, with not much besides the dark fruits, cream, and soft tannis, but the purity-bordering-on-fakeness of the fruit was just quite tasty. We kept going back for more, and despite not starting this until later, we finished it quickly while about half of the Lorca remained. It would be exceptionally delicious with dessert as well, especially dark chocolate. This wine, despite being merely the '04 vintange and only being on its side since August, also had some SERIOUS sediment. Take a look for yourself:


Also, compare the color of the Earthquake (the darker, left) with that of the Lorca (lighter, right). You can really see the difference, which mirrors their flavor profiles:
Again, thanks for stopping by, and feel free to email me if any of you would like to participate with this blog in the future. I'm too lazy to do it all by myself (yes, it's true!) so I would love to have as many people involved as are PSycho about Petite Sirah! And, as the single best wine-blogging wednesday in the entire history of tha intarwebz comes to a close, I will leave you with my new favorite poem/bit of doggerel.
Powerful Titan, arms reaching for sky,
Earthbound devourer, open your eyes!

Throw off your blankets, the day has begun,
Indulge yourself in warm Lodi sun.

Take what is given, the world is your own,
enjoy your dominion, you sit on the throne.

Stand and be noticed, grape without peer,
Instruct in the others what they should fear.

Raise up your standard, proclaim your rights,
Answer to no one, conquer with might.

Hail the victor, the king without flaw,
Salute your new master...Petite Sirah
- The rear label of the '04 Earthquake

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Psycho Blend: 2004 Parducci PS True Grit

First things first: My sincere thanks to The PSychos' Path Master Loweeel, both for inviting me to blog away (which he may yet regret) & for introducing me to Petite Sirah in the first place.

Early in my adventures into the wonderful world of all things PS, I came across (courtesy of Loweeel) what I believe to be a fairly unique PS-centric blend, the 2004 Parducci Petite Sirah True Grit. Unique because I have yet to find a blend of PS (89%), Syrah (8%) & Viognier (3%) elsewhere. I have been dying to find out what that was like. I secured a couple of bottles a month or so ago, waiting patiently for the right occasion to sample this wine, and so, after four hours or so of decanting earlier today, here we are…

If I could see through it, I just know that the True Grit would be clear as day (and I hope that makes sense to someone other than me), but it is the deepest velvet purple, bordering on black, incredibly dark & highly extracted, with thin but prominent candle wax drip legs that its relatively high (14.5%) alcohol content demands.

The nose is surprisingly moderated, but not muted, dominated by blackberry & black cherry, with a hint of black pepper & dark chocolate (or is it burnt caramel?), a totally unexpected element of leather & moss, and (of course) elusive & uber-faint floral accents deep in the background (amazing what a dollop of Viognier can do).

The mouth exhibits moderate acidity; tannins that make their presence felt; a nano-drop of sweetness that is a nano-drop too much for me; a medium body that is a bit leaner than I expect in PS (but, then again, I remind myself that this isn’t 100% PS); and a flavor profile to largely match that of its aromas, with the exception that the earthen qualities of the nose have been replaced with a permeating but mild trace of quinine or (if this makes more sense to others) tonic water. This actually works for me in this wine, and I love it, but I would strongly caution that this is not for the faint of heart.

The finish goes on for a glorious 20+ seconds. Hmmm...

The True Grit is a relatively well balanced wine of moderate complexity & very good to excellent quality that packs a flavor punch that comes somewhat from left field. It is very approachable now but would likely benefit from a couple of years of cellaring, although I would guess that this a 10-year wine & not your typical 15- to 25-year PS. Check in with me when I open my remaining bottle after 2010.

I really liked. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. But only to those who have tread the PSycho Path for some time.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Inky and Incredible!

If any of my readers are located anywhere near San Francisco, you should save the date of Friday, February 9th, 2008 from 6-9pm local time. That day is when we are all encouraged to shell out $50 and go PSycho about Petite Sirah.

That is, at Dark & Delicious, the consumer Petite Sirah event, featuring 35 different wineries pouring their delicious, mouth-drying, teeth-staining, liquid perfection at the
Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. This quasi-religious enological experience will also feature 20 different food vendors, and will offer enough different types of meat and dessert to balance out any Petite Sirah.

You can only purchase tickets at PSILoveYou. Don't delay your purchase, because last year's event sold out and this year's is expected to sell out as well.

If I were even in the Midwest, I would be there. Unfortunately, between the time off from work and the cost of plane fare and accommodations, I am not able to go this year. I am, however, blocking off the date so I can be there in '09.

For those who are able to attend, I would love to hear all about it, in the comments, via email, or even in a post on here if you'd prefer.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

First Restaurant Wine Review


Tonight, I went out for dinner with my co-worker to Ray's The Steaks, perhaPS the best steak place in the DC-area. Yes, the decor may not be much, but they have a decent and reasonably-priced wine list, have gigantic, thick steaks that are butchered on-PremiseS each day, and the chef actually refuses to overcook them. Also, the service is usually quite prompt, and the free home-cooked bread and spicy PeanutS (as apPetizerS), free creamed spinach and mashed PotatoeS (as sides, unlike most other steak places), and home-made after-meal hot chocolate (during the winter months), don't hurt either. They also have a killer (as in "I haven't bathed for days!") sherried crab bisque, PoSsibly the single best soup I've ever consumed, but I decided not to PuSh my arteries too hard tonight.

Anybody want to hazard a guess what we drank with dinner? I know, it's a really tough question. I actually hadn't consumed any PS since the Crane Lake I sampled about 2 weeks ago, and like any junkie, I needed my fix. Well, it was a pretty easy choice, as there was only one PS on the menu: the Trinitas 2004 Old Vines Petite Sirah from Lodi, in California's Central Valley ($22 @ winery; $31 @ Ray's -- so a smaller-than-average markup).

Restaurants often have a problem with stemware, and PS is PerhapS the American wine most in need of decanting, whether young or old, so one should always be a bit wary of ordering PS at a restaurant not known for specializing in wine, because the lack of air time quite literally cramPS its style. Our table had the "standard restaurant wine glasses", decent but not huge bowl, nice shape, but cheap, easily replaceable rolled-rim glasses. When first opened, this had a decent nose from the standard glasses, but definitely was a bit too acidic. I noticed that the credenza towards the back of the restaurant had nicer wine glasses (some sort of nice Bordeaux-shaped glasses, I believe) with cut rims, and our waitress immediately and very PleaSantly brought me a different stem upon my request after my first glass of wine, which provided much more nose and a bit more complexity on the palate. My co-worker also noticed, a bit too late for our purPoSes, that they had decanters towards the front of the restaurant as well. So, hindsight being "50/50" as one of my wine.woot friends says, I would have asked the waitress to decant it and then pour from the decanter into the nice glasses, because this wine definitely needed some air to breathe.

Anyway, this was a pretty nice bottle for $31. especially along with our respective 20 oz medium-rare boneless NY Strip with sauteed garlic and grilled red onions (me, $33) and 28 oz medium double-thick "cowboy cut" bone-in Rib-Eye with horseradish sauce (my co-worker, $32). Both of us had about as much meat left over as we managed to eat!

On the nose, the wine smelled heavily of black pepper and PlumS, with some soft leathery hints as well. The black pepper also carried over to the palate, but the PlumS faded to the background in favor of ripe blackberries. There were also some soft earthy notes (almost loamy) and hints of smoke to join the faint leather on the delightfully tannic finish. The tannins, while very nice, were not immediately apparent without some glass-swirling and mouth-swishing. Towards the end of the bottle, the tannins became better integrated, which is why I so strongly suggest decanting this. This wine had a fantastic color too -- almost the way red ink looks when inside a ink cartridge of a pen, with a dark ruby on the edges of the glass. Granted, the restaurant didn't have the best lighting, but this stuff was optically dense. It had a nice mouth feel, and was fairly jammy for a PS; my co-worker described it as sweet because the fruit was much more obvious, even along with the pepper, than the Syrahs and Pinots that he's used to.

All-in-all, not a bad night: a great meal, a new PS for me at a very restaurant-reasonable price. This isn't something I'd necessarily seek out, but it certainly PuncheS at its own weight in PS circles. I think it's something worth picking up if you see it and haven't tried it, just to broaden your PSalate and see what the nasty-looking but delicious-tasting old vine PS can be.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's Not Just Red (Or Inky Purple-Black)


Although PS is most famous as the inky, mouth-staining, tannic red wine with which we are familiar, it also exists as a Rosé, thanks to the creativity of a few PS-obsessed, winemakers who are willing to experiment a little bit. Specifically, Turley, Bogle, and Bella Vista Winery/Cilurzo (see picture, left) all make a Rosé out of PS, though apparently not necessarily each vintage. Bentley Cellars apparently makes one as well, but I have been unable to find any real information on it. (I may be missing some others, so if you know of one or more, or even better, produce it, please let me know and I'll add to this list.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

HapPy ThankSgiving!


Thanksgiving is not just about Pinot Noir, nor Cru Beaujolais (no matter how fond of it I am, especially on QPR grounds). In fact, lots of people had some delicious PS during their Thanksgiving rePaSts. CellarTracker has been tracking what wines people have consumed over the Thanksgiving holiday, and see what PS your fellow PSychos have enjoyed!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wine-Blogging Wednesday Features The Best Grape


The Next Wine-Blogging Wednesday (WBW) will feature PS, the greatest grape in existence. I have several wines that I am considering for this (but not the Turley Hayne '04 that I'm picking up tomorrow in NJ for less than $100). Sonadora (who apparently lives close to me) has all the details and her husband will be a very lucky guy that night thanks to her PowerS of PerSuasion working at WBW central!

PS reviews are due to her -- either at your blog or, if you're not a blogger, to ctsonadora@gmail.com , by Wednesday, December 12.

And how about some comments, folks? All ... uh, 1 of you who read this blog? I want to hear your PerceptionS on PS.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Scraping the Bottom of the PS Barrel

Tonight, in part out of curiosity and in part to prove that I am willing to sample just about any PS for the purPoSes of this blog, I popped open the Crane Lake 2004 Petite Sirah, from the rather PermiSsive California AVA. There isn't much info on the back of the label either.

From what I've seen online, Crane Lake is basically the sister label to Charles Shaw (aka "2 Buck Chuck"). Bronco Wines, which makes 2$C, makes it exclusively for Trader Joe's. Crane Lake is their label for independent wine stores, and is a bit more exPanSive in choice of graPeS and exPerimentS more than the 2$C ... hence the PS on this label and not 2$C.

Now, I've heard that 2$C isn't all it's cracked up to be, other than the Shiraz and Chardonnay (a mixture of oak chiPS, butter, vodka, and water, I have no idea how people drink the swill from that horribly overrated grape... but I digress). But at $4, this was a pretty damn good bottle of wine, insane QPR. That's not to say this was a good PS, because it wasn't. But for $4... wow.

This was like the light beer of PS -- the fruit (on both nose and palate) wasn't really there, and was very soft, light, cranberries, sour cherries, and blueberries, no PlumS or blackberries. The tannins were very soft, if they were there at all. The color was a decent, albeit translucent, dark garnet red, not an inky purPliSh-tinged black. The most disappointing part, aside from the tannins, was that the finish was almost non-existent. After about 3 hours in the glass, the finish became somewhat unPleaSantly sour and started to fall apart, an increase from the good acidity that the wine had in the mouth early on. It was somewhat integrated, yet awkward, because of the acidity, but other than being a bit out of balance, it was varietally correct, even if very light for the varietal.

I've had much more exPenSive PS -- the '04 and '05 Guenoc; the Wilson Vineyard and PETS from Vinum Cellars -- that were much more muted and much less PleaSant to drink than this. This won't knock your socks off, and isn't even something I'd recommend. But it's damn good QPR, and you can spend a lot more and get worse PS. It's worth giving it a try -- especially with food, because of its nice acidity. Maybe an 82-83. Not bad at all, but not great either.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

First, Do No Harm (Part 1 in a Series)


As you can probably tell from this whole blog, I think that Petite Sirah is usually a pretty damn good wine to drink. It has the tannins and the fruit to go well with food, and it ages inordinately better than one would expect. In fact, it's hard to go wrong with Petite Sirah, but there are certainly wines to avoid.

I'm going to start off by describing some of those wines, so you can learn from my mistakes and avoid these like you would avoid Chardonnay.
______________

I've long had a fascination with Israel, so when I saw a bottle of the Gedeon 2004 Petite Sirah (Kosher) at WineLibrary last spring, I had to buy it. The only things better than Petite Sirah and Israel, or I thought, would be something that combines Petite Sirah and Israel. There is certainly some mindblowingly amazing Petite Sirah made in Israel, but the Gedeon was not it. It wasn't even plonk. It was just not really anything remotely close to wine. On the first day, it tasted like sour, bitter (yet not tannic!) prune juice. It was not just unstructured, but seemed to have an anti-structure. On the second day, it "improved" to sour plum juice, and got about a sPlinter'S worth of additional structure.

Maybe part of the problem is that Gedeon is made by Hevron Heights winery, which is one of the largest Kosher wineries in Israel. Hevron Heights also makes many of their wines mevushal, and while one would think if any grape could handle the flash-PaSteurization, it's the sturdy Petite Sirah, this was not the case. However, there might be another explanation: although the genius Dr. Carole Meredith determined that most of the PS in California is "Durif" (as opposed to "Grosse Syrah", PelourSin, Carignane, or Zin), this quite obviously does not apply halfway around the world, in a place with a much different viticultural history. The "PS" used by Hevron Heights might in fact be something else, though it could also be a misbegotten clone or a bizarre cross left over from Israel's pre-genetic ID "jug wine days", wretched terroir, or cranio-rectally ignorant management of this truly noble (though PerhapS Bar Sinister) grape.

Regardless of the problem, if you see this label, head for the hills, and bring plenty of the good stuff with you to ride out the storm!