Wednesday, December 12, 2007

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


themostrighteous said...

Wow! Now THAT is a post worthy of WBW. Rock on, PSycho Master, rock on!

Sonadora said...

Thanks for participating! I guess this was a perfectly themed WBW for your blog. Glad you found some great PS to review!

Dale Cruse said...

That's a heckuva roundup! I only tasted one Petite Sirah and now feel like a slacker!

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

I reviewed that Earthquake, too, and came to many of the same conclusions: Lotsa sediment, over-extracted, very dark, jammy, etc. But I don't like those wines (I am used to European reds). Let's not forget it's at a rippin' 15.5 percent alcohol, too. Yikes.

Since you are a PS fan, I'd say try that Ehrhardt if you can get it. The best true-to-type PS I've yet tasted, other than the hyper-spendy Quixote...

Shea said...

Great blog. I had the 2003 Earthquake, which I liked a lot but I thought it was overpriced for what you got. It was very very fruity, which I like from time to time and I think it makes it a lot of fun, but it's not something I think I could drink all the time. Anyhow, great posts and I will definitely be visiting your blog many times in the future. It's only too bad we don't have the best selection of PS up here in Canada - but at least I'll know what to get when I head down to the US.

BunnyMasseuse said...

I have to say I had a blast tasting with PSycho and trying wines which otherwise I might have passed up (shudder to think!). I will have to make many more an attempt to crash PSycho's tastings on Tuesday nights so the next morning isn't so harsh on him :)

-Aileen fellow wine.wooter aka bunnymasseuse

Debbie said...

Glad I found this site info that I need, Im a lover of PS too and do try to try anything I can find in this State. While visiting my family in Ca. I picked up a bottle of Elyse PS. LOVED it. Have you tried this one? Of course I can't find it here, maybe one day I'll get to order on line..

Loweeel said...

Debbie -- here's my tasting note: 2005 Elyse Petite Sirah Rutherford (USA, California, Napa Valley, Rutherford) 10/14/2007 - The fruit is muted on the palate, but great nose. Fantastically well-structured after an hour in the decanter, great soft tannins. Pricey ($28) for a PET at this rating, might not buy again, but it's quite a nice bottle. (204 views)

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