Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Mr. Brecher, (and Ms. Gaiter), Open That Bottle!"

John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter of the Wall Street Journal are my favorite "old media" wine journalists. They write in an open and engaging manner, aren't preachy, and often relate their long journey through the world of wine. On top of it, they're married to each other, and it's heartwarming to see family anecdotes and informative to see where their palates differ.

One of their creations is something called "Open That Bottle" Night, on which they encourage us to open a bottle of wine that we've been hoarding or saving for a special occasion. They are of the opinion (and it's true at least for me!) that people typically hold onto "special bottles" for too long, because there are too many special bottles and not enough special occasions. So, now there's one more, one guaranteed to come every year.

Why am I PoSting about this? Well, they also posted their 4 candidate bottles, along with why it's a potential. The one that's WAY in last place (we should be used to getting no respect!) is of interest to us -- 1994 Royal Escort Petite Sirah Port, from Prager Winery and Port Works! So go vote for it -- all 12 or so of you who read this. Here's why they picked it:
During one of our first visits to Napa and Sonoma, we stopped by Prager in St. Helena. We thought we'd dropped into Santa's workshop because standing before us, in a room chock-full of interesting memorabilia and doodads, was a white-haired man who seemed to be straight from central casting. That's how we met Jim Prager and, man, did he like to talk. We spent what seemed like the whole afternoon with him and left with way too many bottles. On another visit years later, we again purchased too much and asked Mr. Prager to sign a few bottles, which he merrily did. This is the last bottle from that lot -- and it's signed in gold ink by Mr. Prager. Yep, we know real Port comes from Portugal, but every time we see this bottle, we smile at the memory of our introduction to Jim. His children run the place now. Peter Prager, one of Jim's sons, says his dad retired when they changed the tasting room cash register to a computer -- he took one look at it and said, "I retire." Still, Prager remains a marvelous quirky stop in Napa and we know that many people have the same warm memories of it that we do.
Even beyond PS, I'm interested in their imPreSsions of this bottle, because I have 2 375 ml bottles of the 2004, 3 750s of the 1998, and 2 750s of the 1984, mostly thanks to my winebid addiction. I've also had their NV PS Port, and 2 bottles of their 1991 LBV Royal Escort PS Port.

Prager isn't limited to port, though -- their only dry wine is a PS (current vintage is 2004, from Imogene's Vineyard in the town of Calistoga, but bears the St. Helena appellation on the label). They also make, depending on the year, three different ports (fortified dessert wines) from PS -- the constant being their non-vintage PS Port (currently from Lodi fruit). They also make, from time-to-time in selected vintages, a true Vintage port and an LBV port, (though somewhat confusingly, both are currently called "Royal Escort") out of the "Paladini" Vineyard that they own in the Napa Valley AVA.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The PaSt is Prelude

Whew. Dark and Delicious was flat-out AMAZING (even outweighing the backlog from spending 2 days out of the office). As I have more time, I'll be more specific (including PoSting some abbreviated tasting notes and other imPreSsions from D&D and the other tastings that weekend, which included Vincent Arroyo's 2007 Barrel SamPleS).
  • On top of the fantastic wine and delicious food, it was great to spend my time there with other wine.wooters -- especially Cat, "Sparky", and "Tenuki". From meeting up beforehand and traveling over together, to walking around as a (very) loose group at D&D, our afterparty (with a very special 44-year old guest) back at the Oakland Holiday Inn, and the travels over the weekend, it was a blast. Good friends, both new and old, make experiencing wine exponentially better.

  • Special thanks to "Winedavid39" and his wife "winefarm", the people behind wine.woot who make the community what it is, for attending D&D and the after party, and for supplying some samPleS of your own. You are, and always will be, my favorite dealers of the best gateway drug -- insane QPR wine of any variety.

  • I got to meet Jo Diaz and much of her family, and it was heartwarming to see other people so enthusiastic about PS. I'll never be able to thank her enough for supporting my habit, taking so much time to deal with me and my PS-obsession online and in-PerSon at D&D, and all her efforts on behalf of PS and its chamPionS.

  • The wines at D&D were fabulous. I didn't get to taste them all (only about 60%, I'd estimate, because I was busy chatting with the winemakers/sales reps), and that's even when I specifically avoided wines that I'd tasted in the last month or 2 (e.g., the yummy 2005 Mettler PS). I'll post my abbreviated notes, along with what were, to me, some of the biggest surPriSes, during the next week or so.

  • The conversations were also great. I had a lovely, incredibly flattering, 20-min conversation with the first among PatriarchS himself, Jim Concannon. He was almost as excited that I have a blog devoted to PS as I was to be speaking with him! I also ran into Dick Keenan of Kick Ranch, which my friend Megan loves to call "Kick-ASS Ranch", and had a nice chat with him, as well. The surprise there was that we have some unexpected mutual acquaintances in the legal field.

  • Then there was the after-party, with a wide array of high-end PS.

  • And of course, the winery visits. Those of interest to this blog are Vincent Arroyo for barrel samPleS, Corison (I'll explain later... this story is too good!), David Fulton (another great story there), Field Stone, and Seghesio and Rosenblum in Healdsburg.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love you Tomorrow, You're Only a Day Away...

In preparation for Dark & Delicious, I'm trying to focus on articles that will help us prepare to wrap our minds and palates around the scope of PS, to develop an appreciation of its differences and similiarities (roundness in the mouth, and hopefully some face-smashing tannins!).

And another on the scope of PS with some stats. In the most recent Quarterly Review of Wines (link at PSILY currently broken), Richard Paul Hinkle provides some nice stats on PS before providing some tasting notes (which I will only summarize, for copyright reasons).

First, the stats. PSILY must be doing a great job, as Hinkle observes, because PS, once a 14,000-acre workhorse, had dwindled to a disgracefully low 1400 acres in 1990. A little more than a decade later, and it had nearly tripled to just over 4000 acres. Fast forward another 4 years, and California was back past 6000 acres, and we'll be over 7000 by the end of 2009. A decent recovery, to be sure, but we have a ways to go!

Similarly, Hinkle notes that in 2003, only 65 American wineries produced PS. Today, we're up to (are you ready for this?) 448. That's just AWESOME. (Good job, Jo!)

In terms of the wines, Hinkle likes 2 that I'm a big fan of -- the Concannon Limited Release '05 (black currant, bacon, duck fat, oak, fruit-forward), and Parducci True Grit '05 (I enjoyed the '04, but this one is black pepper, pomegranate, tannin, dark chocolate, brusque). He also likes the standard RRV Foppiano 2005 ("all black fruit all the time" -- black currant, blackberry, pomegranate, blueberry, supple and alluring, agile and sophisticated), EOS's standard Paso Robles '05 (blustery, leather, plum, raspberry, soft black pepper), and the Twisted Oak Calaveras County '05 ("fluid, cigar box, fruit from cranberry to blackberry and cola").

And on that note... I'll see you guys tomorrow. I'm not hard to spot -- I'll have a gigantic blue-toothed smile to complement my red hair. Come say hi!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

2 Days Left...

In preparation for Dark & Delicious, I'm trying to focus on articles that will help us prepare to wrap our minds and palates around the scope of PS, to develop an appreciation of its differences and similiarities (roundness in the mouth, and hopefully some face-smashing tannins!).

With just 2 short days remaining until Dark & Delicious 2009, let's get back on track with the American theme and the scope of PS. Here's a bit more about Washington State PS, including one from the Wahluke Slope Appellation north of Yakima Valley.

And another favorite of mine, inquiring whether PS is PoiSed to be the next value red. (Short answer = yes)

As for me, I had some PS of my own last night -- the 1996 Signoriello (Napa Valley), entirely unfiltered, made from 110-year old vines. I saw no signs of leakage or seepage. In the glass the wine was a translucent but impenetrable midnight purple, with a thin ruby-purple rim at the top of the glass. Surprisingly, there was very little sediment anywhere, just a bit at the bottom of the bottle. The wine, as one might expect from an adolescent PS, was a bit muted, but what I did taste was lovely -- black cherry/blackberry reduction, late-swarming velvety tannins, a bit of brett, some cedar, and a decently long finish. Plenty of acidity makes this a lithe, well-balanced, food-friendly PS, one that will last close to another decade with proper cellaring. Luckily, I do have that one last bottle...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

3 Days Left...

In preparation for Dark & Delicious, I'm trying to focus on articles that will help us prepare to wrap our minds and palates around the scope of PS, to develop an appreciation of its differences and similiarities (roundness in the mouth, and hopefully some face-smashing tannins!).

Having spent the last 3 days discussing the good old U. S. of A. (with that little detour to Baja), we're taking a vacation to Israel.

Courtesy of my friend Avi at HaKerem: The Israeli Wine Blog comes some interesting statistical information on Israeli viticulture.

Apparently, PS is considered a "main variety" of grape in Israel, though it is certainly smaller than many of the others. 2% of the total grape acreage planted is PS; similarly, PS is 2% of the total harvest by weight -- not bad for such a small grape!

Israel has more PS planted and harvested than it has gamay, malbec, zinfandel (take that, Zinfidels!), grenache, tempranillo, barbera, sangiovese, or nebbiolo.

3 of Hugh Johnson's 10 highest-ranked wineries in Israel use PS in some capacity: Margalit as a non-trivial blending agent in their Special Reserve Cabernet, while Ella Valley and Carmel make it as a stand-alone varietal.

Keep ImPreSsing us with your wines, Israel!

Monday, February 16, 2009

4 Days Left...

In preparation for Dark & Delicious, I'm trying to focus on articles that will help us prepare to wrap our minds and palates around the scope of PS, to develop an appreciation of its differences and similiarities (roundness in the mouth, and hopefully some face-smashing tannins!).

With 4 days left, we return to the last of Clark's articles on regional variation in PS. This one is a listing of the ratings/medals of 37 PS wines that tasted to determine regional variations. Mouseover (and look in the right-hand column) for the tasting notes.

Getting excited for D&D? With some of these wines available for tasting there, I know that I am! Masset, in particular, is of interest to me, having not had West Coast PS outside of California.

Wait, "West Coast"? What's with the qualifier? Yes, there's one from PennSylvania that I've had, and while it doesn't measure up to most of the ones from Cali, it is better than you might expect, knowing that it's from PA.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

5 Days Left...

In preparation for Dark & Delicious, I'm trying to focus on articles that will help us prepare to wrap our minds and palates around the scope of PS, to develop an appreciation of its differences and similiarities (roundness in the mouth, and hopefully some face-smashing tannins!).

With 5 days left, there's more from Clark Smith. In yesterday's PoSt, I link to his discussion of the ways in which PS varies according to its terroir and the chemical and PhySiological bases for those differences.

Now that we have that in hand, today's PoSt features Clark's listing of PS characteristics from many different appellations -- from Masset Vineyards way up in Washington State's Columbia Valley all the way down to Paso Robles and the rest of the Central Coast Appelation. Regrettably, Clark does not go further south and taste any of the interesting Baja California PS (including the widely-available L.A. Cetto from the Valle de Guadalupe appelation, one of my favorite bargains for a "drink soon" PS), but it's understandable. After all, the site is neither "Appellation North America" nor "Apelacion Mexico".

Unfortunately, Clark's sampling was far from complete. In some cases, like the Columbia Valley, the other ProducerS (PortteuS, Thurston Wolfe, Animale being the others who have produced more than one vintage since 2003) may not have had enough available for dataset of the region to be more than one wine.

However, in others, the small data sets are very puzzling. For the Russian River Valley, Clark only ProfileS Foppiano. To be sure, a sampling of RRVPS would be incomplete without them, but they are not the alpha and omega of that active of an appellation -- glaring omissions include Mayo, Elyse, Trinitas, and Christopher Creek. Clark's Concannon-only profile of the Central Coast appellation, which though slightly less active a hotspot than RRV, spans the San Francisco Bay area all the way down to Santa Barbara County may be even more deficient, as that area is much larger than the Sonoma-only RRV.

But compared to the imPreSsive scope of the project, these shortcomings are relatively minor. Kudos to Clark for risking his palate and mouth with the fearsome tannins of that much PS!

Clark concludes with a few ParagraphS on one of my favorite toPicS, aging/cellaring PS:
This variety seems endowed with all the elements to achieve gracefulness naturally – intense coloration, extractive power, and aromatic charm. But we also found a few clunkers, which were, in the main, victims of excessive hang time. It takes effort to dry out these wines, but it can be done. Particularly in regions of moderate color density, one should not count on big tannin as a warranty of ageability. Chief among the warning signs to drink now is a voluptuous forward fruit, but in this variety, one needs to distinguish between the fragility of pruney/raisiny fruit and the generosity of the dense plum and boysenberry which may age well.

Not immune from the downside of modern trends towards extended hang time, Petite’s dense coloration nevertheless usually saves all but the most extreme examples from dryness in youth, but poorly formed tannins spell doom in the cellar. Even for experts, the sheer mass of tannin makes it plenty tricky to distinguish youthful hardness from the grainy dryness which signals decline. In lighter reds, these are easily distinguished by the position and character of the tannins - the sheet-like grippy structure, all atop the tongue, which one finds in young wines being quite different from the dirty, gritty tannins under the tongue and in the cheeks as older wine falls apart.

To be sure, these tannin differences will prove useful guides once the wines have gotten through their first decade or so, and it is plain that the ’93 Foppiano remains vigorous and age worthy. But in the young wines, I doubt many could have seen this possibility. Likewise, I do not find that the standards of acidity, alcohol balance, pH or even minerality offer reliable clues to ageing of young Petites.

What to do? My simple advice is to watch the color. Healthy color is the key to structural finesse and graceful longevity. Probably the best indicator is hue. As with kings, the royal purple is the stamp of nobility, and a premature bricky hue says “if you like me, drink me now.”

Beyond that, I’d simply add that this varietal offers one of the best playgrounds for an enthusiast to experiment. The best reason to cellar this variety is that it’s an adventure, because none of us really know how it works. Hey, anybody up for a little fun?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

6 Days Left...

(oops! My scheduled auto-post didn't work for these entries! I'm going back and publishing them manually.)

In preparation for Dark & Delicious, I'm trying to focus on articles that will help us prepare to wrap our minds and palates around the scope of PS, to develop an appreciation of its differences and similiarities (roundness in the mouth, and hopefully some face-smashing tannins!).

With 6 days left, I bring you a fascinating piece from Appellation America on Sources of Petite Sirah's Regional Diversity (aka "Yes, Virginia -- and California, too! -- there is such thing as Terroir in the New World).

The article delves into the regional differences in aroma, tannins, fruit profiles, and even color! But this doesn't just discuss the difference qualitatively -- Clark Smith also discusses the "why" and the "how" of these differences. As somebody with a science background, I really love finding out what makes wine "work" -- coming as close as one can to isolating the dependent variables in the peculiar blend of soft science and art that takes us from soil to bottle.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Beginning... The Final Countdown!

As Dark & Delicious 2009 fast approaches, I'll be counting down, trying to feature something new each day, no matter how many bottles of wine I have to crack open, or how thoroughly I have to scour the vast exPanSe of the internet.

With ONE WEEK LEFT until the Party Starts, today's PoSt will be circular and meta.

How so?

It's about Jo Diaz's write-up and PoSt about Carl Doumani (of Quixote), starting with his resPonSe to my own PoSt summarizing several of Jo's PoSts, including one about Carl Doumani. Confused yet? :-)

In that earlier PoSt, I described him as "PS Godfather Carl Doumani, currently of Quixote (which makes both the Quixote and Panza labels)."

From what Jo relates, Mr. Doumani read my PoSt as calling him the winemaker at Quixote, and wanted to emPhaSize, “I am not a winemaker. I did (and do) work with the winemakers to maintain a style that was developed by Lee Stewart in 1972-1973 and 1974. Any improvements in the wine quality were because of their intelligence, not mine.”

While Mr. Doumani is exceedingly modest, he is also correct. While I don't think I gave the imPreSsion that he was the winemaker, merely one of the more influential men in the small-but-lovely world of PS, part of the reason for this PoSt is clear up any remaining ambiguity. Mr. Doumani is not the winemaker.

But please click over and read the rest of Jo's article, which has some fascinating information on Mr. Doumani, his aesthetic sensibilities, and the visually arresting art and architecture that comprise Quixote Winery.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You're Only A Day Away...

Tomorrow, Titus Vineyards is having a video chat for the release of their 2005 Lot 1.
Wednesday, February 11th, 10:30am to 11:30 am PST. Join Eric Titus while he talks about and tastes the Titus Vineyards '05 Lot 1. Ask your questions in the chat room and get a real time answer from Eric and crew if you have a bottle you can even taste along with him. Special guests from the Oxbow Cheese Merchant will be by to talk about what cheeses to pair with the '05 Lot 1. Also, watch Eric prepare the winning recipe from the "Make my recipe with Titus Olive Oil Contest". The Titus Vineyards crew has chosen a recipe submitted by The Beer Wench. Enjoy!
(direct link to video here)

As you may remember, I got to "labrat" the 2004 version (65% PS, 30% PV, 5% Z) as a sample for wine.woot back in September '08, as quid pro quo for my tasting notes on it and general imPreSsions. I enjoyed the bottle immensely, and I look forward to the 2005 (same blend -- I wonder if that was deliberate, or was the result of blending trials? I'll have to ask that tomorrow). Even if I don't get a sample bottle, or woot pricing, I'll probably pick up at least one of them to hang out with its older brothers in my cellar.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Time CaPSule II

Eric Asimov recently wrote, about aged wines:
Similarly with petite sirah — I’ve had 25-year-old bottles that taste astonishingly fruity though less tannic than a new bottle, but I don’t see the point of keeping a bottle that long.
Sorry, Eric -- we do! And you would too if you've had some of ours.

3 weeks ago, I met up with some of the other PSychos in Chicago for a tasting of old wines, along with a bunch of the Chicago-area wine.woot crowd. While the was officially on Saturday, and was Cab-centric, we PSychos had some other wines beforehand, on Friday night, which, as one might expect from us, focused on well-aged PS.

But as the saying goes, there are no good old wines, just good old bottles. These were all from winebid, removed from temperature- and humidity-controlled cellars, with base neck fill or better. No bottle went for more than $30 (before winebid's markup). And the results showed that winebid's quality control is impressive indeed.
  • 1982 Stags' Leap Winery Petite Sirah (USA, California, Napa Valley) -- Our (old) wine of the evening, and but for the 2006 Munch PS, would have been the wine of the night. Brilliant, extracted red fruits, vibrant acidity, tannins still gripping firmly through layer upon layer of red velvet. A 27-year old wine that could easily be mistaken for 8, but for the impressive amounts of sediment. The last few drops in the bottle were still kicking the next morning. (I have one of these left, and while it seems like it could last another 5-10 years, I probably won't take any chances))
  • 1983 Inglenook Petite Sirah (USA, California, Napa Valley) -- a bit disappointing at first, but the remaining bit in the bottle had improved by the next morning. Dark fruits, muted, still some gripping tannins, some oxidized aromas, tar. Not bad, but not worth the price (at least, based on the tastes after we opened it). But it may just have been a bad bottle, or something that lacked the structure to age. (1983 being my brother's birth year, I have a few of these left)
  • 1987 Vincent Arroyo Petite Sirah (USA, California, Napa Valley) -- Following the Stags' Leap, the old PS of the night. It's one of Arroyo's earliest wines. Blackberries, caramel, tar, dusty fine tannins everywhere, still great acidity, had the Arroyo "shoepolish" house style, which is always lovely to find. Tasted older than the Stags' Leap, and probably won't be around too much longer. But surprisingly, the last bit in the bottle was still kicking in the morning.
  • 1992 Schuetz Oles Petite Sirah Rattlesnake Acres (USA, California, Napa Valley) -- might have been in its dumb period, but wildly disappointing. No real fruit or structure to speak of. If you see it on winebid, don't be in a hurry.
  • 1999 Fife Petite Sirah Redhead (USA, California, North Coast, Redwood Valley) -- the youngest of the bottles, and, at least to me, still a young PS, albeit on the aged end of that. Very nice round red fruits, medium-bodied, light tannins, gripping acidity. Not a big, tarry PS. What made this wine work was the Brett to balance out the red fruits.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Time CaPSule I

My friend Sonadora came to our recent NoVA wine.woot gathering this past weekend, where we had a bunch of French and California wines from no younger than the 2000 vintage.

4 of the 6 wines I brought were PS that fit that theme (have no fear, I have plenty more old bottles).

Here are her notes on those bottles:
1979 Sebastiani Vineyards Petite Sirah Proprietor’s Reserve: Still fairly dark for an old wine. No fruit on nose. Chocolate, raisin, little port like on the nose, something plasticy, thin in the mouth. Past its prime.

1990 Mirassou Vineyards Petite Sirah: Blueberry, red fruit, tart, smoky, chocolate, cranberry juice, raisins. Really nice.

1997 Markham Petite Sirah: Indistinguishable dark fruit on the nose, sweet fruit, raisin, blue fruit.

1999 Kent Rasmussen Petite Sirah Leeds-Chavez Vineyard: Blueberry, chocolate, caramel, perfumey, spice, nice fruit, tasty, well done.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Israel KeePS ImPreSsing!

As I've mentioned earlier, I have a special place in my heart for Israeli wine. Between my family, the food, and the incredible energy in the atmosphere, Israel is a place I treasure. It's great to see (and to taste!) that they're making similar strides in their wine. The best place to go for the most up-to-date information on Israeli wine is, of course, Rogov's wine forum.

According to Daniel Rogov (of the eponymous forum), the dean of Israeli wine critics, PS was historically used as a blending grape in Israel. (Having tasted the execrable Gedeon 2005 Petite Sirah -- Kosher and Mevushal -- I see why they used it primarly for blending). But after the UC-Davis-trained Dr. Yair Margalit went to Israel, and started using PS in his Special Reserve Cabernet (in the 10-15% range), it has become noticeably more popular with each vintage. Of late, it seems to have reached the tipping point.

Ze'ev Dunie of Sea Horse (Rogov recent notes) is not the only one using it in single-variety wines and blends. Recanati (kosher) maintains 2 PS-majority blends, one featuring Zin (and available pretty widely in the US) and the other adding Syrah (only available at the Derekh HaYain stores in Israel), though they don't have a standalone PS. Asaf Paz at Vitkin (soon to be imported by Israeli Wine Direct), and Carmel (kosher, 2004 vintage available here,) have recently hopped on the PS bandwagon -- or in Carmel's case back on, with a dedication to making serious wine. There's plenty more room, however, as shown by the latest crop of Israeli PadawanS.

Here are Rogov's recent notes on notes on some selected PS-labeled wines and PS-heavy blends:
Avidan, Blend de Noirs, Tagadom (Red Label), 2007 (Advance Tasting): Oak aged for 12 months, this medium-bodied blend of Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz (45%, 35% and 20% respectively), shows super-dark garnet in color. Opens with a fresh, black fruit nose, goes on in the glass to reveal currants and raspberries, those supported by hints of mint, licorice and espresso coffee. Soft and gently mouth-coating tannins rise comfortably on the finish. Drink now-2012. Score 88.

Avidan, Fringe, 2007: Reflecting the winery's proclivity to "play" with labels and with blends, I am tempted to call this one not "Fringe" but, as my daughter might "far out and funky" – that in the most positive sense though for this is a wine that will make you both think and smile, at one moment appearing to be from California, at another from the Rhone and at yet another from the Mediterranean. Whatever, a full-bodied and gently muscular blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Petite Sirah, showing still caressing tannins and a comfortable modicum of soft and spicy oak in fine balance with black fruits. On first attack blackberry, currants and vanilla, those yielding to citrus peel, chocolate and mint. Approachable and enjoyable now but best 2010-2013, perhaps longer when it will show both softer and more round. Score 90.

Avidan, Petite Sirah, 2008 (Barrel Tasting): A deeply extracted Petite Sirah, full-bodied, concentrated and intense with still almost searing tannins and muscles that seem to enjoy making themselves felt. Reminds me much of the Margalit Petite Sirah. Wild berries, blackberries and loganberries all here in abundance, those set off by generous spices and, on the super-long finish notes of bitter-sweet chocolate. Perhaps to be released as a varietal, perhaps as a blending agent. Tentative Score 90-92.

Carmel, Petite Sirah, Old Vines, Appellation, Judean Hills, 2007: Aged for 14 months in oak, partly new, partly used, made from 35+ year old vines, a concentrated and full-bodied red, showing royal purple in color and with generous tannins in fine balance with spicy and vanilla-rich wood. On the nose and palate a fine array of red and black fruits, those complemented by notes of black pepper, olives and Mediterannean herbs. Best from 2010. Score 90. K (Tasted 22 Jan 2009)

Carmel, Petite Sirah, Old Vines, Regional, Judean Hills, 2006: A big wine, full-bodied, deep garnet toward royal-purple, oak-aged for 12 months, with gripping tannins just starting to settle down but showing fine balance between tannins, wood and fruits. Ripe plum, blackberry and boysenberry notes on a background of minerals, minted chocolate and spicy cedar wood. Drink now–2012. NIS 80. Score 90. K (Re-tasted 7 Feb 2008)

Chillag, Giovane, Petite Sirah, 2006: Deep, dark and rich, full-bodied, with firm country-style tannins and showing beautiful huckleberry, blackberry, and black cherry notes on a background of vanilla, minerals and chocolate-covered cherry notes. Long and generous. Drink from release–2012. Tentative Score 89–91. (Note: Not certain whether this wine will be released)

Chillag, Giovane, Cabernet Sauvignon-Petite Sirah, 2005: A blend of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. Oak-aged for 20 months showing medium to full-bodied and with still-firm near-sweet tannins, those just starting to settle down and opening to reveal generous black fruits, those on a light background that hints nicely of licorice and bitter almonds. Easy to drink but with just enough complexity to grab and hold our interest. Drink now–2010. Score 90.

Ella Valley Vineyards, Petite Sirah, 2007 (Advance Tasting): The winery's first release of a Petite Sirah varietal wine and quite a success. Made from grapes from 10 year old vines, intensely dark royal purple in color, showing generous tannins and fine fruit concentration. On the nose and palate blackberries, raspberries and loganberry fruits, those matched nicely not notes of mint and tobacco. Firm and chewy with a long, near muscular finish. Drink now-2012. Score 90. K

Vitkin, Petite Sirah, 2005: Made from old-vine grapes and oak-aged for 16 months. Full-bodied, impenetrably dark purple-black, with deep spicy overlays and firm tannins all coming together beautifully. On the nose and palate blackberry and blueberries, those matched nicely by notes of white pepper, peppermint, chocolate and cedar wood, and on the long finish enchanting hints of raspberry jam. Drink now–2012. Score 91. (Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)

Vitkin, Petite Sirah, 2006: Showing much as at barrel and advance tastings. Reflecting its youth with a dark royal-purple color, medium to full-bodied, with fine extraction and with lively notes of spices, white pepper, tobacco and cedarwood supporting generous blackberry and huckleberry fruits. Chewy tannins rise on the finish along with a hint of grilled beef. Best 2010–2014. Score 90. (Re-tasted 29 Jan 2009)

Vortman, Shambour, 2007: Dark garnet in color, aged in French oak for 10 months, a somewhat unusual blend of 50% Merlot and 25% each of Petite Sirah and Pinotage, but don't let that hold you back. Low on the nose but the wine opens to reveal flavors of rich black fruits and Mediterranean herbs along with a hint of green olives. Tannins and fruits rise nicely on the finish. Drink now-2010. Score 87. (Tasted 16 Jan 2009)
Also of interest, as linked in the right-hand column, are Rogov's previous batch of tasting notes on Israeli PS, from November 2008.

Rogov's tasting note for the 2006 Sea Horse Munch will accompany my own impressions from tasting it with the other PSychos in an upcoming PoSt (with PictureS!).