Monday, March 30, 2009

Wineblogging Wednesday does PaSsover!

CorkDork has announced the theme for the latest wineblogging wednesday, and it is Kosher wine! While many of the fine PS from Israel are not kosher, others are. I'll be having a bottle of Carmel's Regional series PS (and maybe another kosher wine, and possibly another PS) for the online shindig.

Here's Rogov's latest note on this wine:
Carmel, Regional, Petite Sirah, Judean Hills, 2005: Developed in French oak for 12 months, made from grapes from 35-year-old vines, this almost impenetrably dark purple, still-firmly tannic wine opens in the glass to reveal a rich array of dark plum, blueberry, peppery, herbal and spicy cedar notes. Dense enough to be thought of as chewable but opens to show harmony and grace. Drink now–2012. Score 91. K
By the way, avoid the execrable Gedeon Petite Sirah like it could give you the plague (as it just might...) It's that bad.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A PocalypS Now? (aka "A Diamond in the Rough?")

The ubiquitous Francis Ford Coppola "Diamond Series" has added a new member -- the Plum Label (of course!) Petite Sirah, which is available directly for them for $20. I haven't been hugely imPreSsed with most of the diamond series wines (I've liked the Malbec and the Shiraz, haven't liked the Claret in recent vintages, and haven't tried the Zin, Merlot, PN, or straight Cab). Given the price for an "entry-level" PS, I don't know whether this is a good value, especially given the other very solid to good PS that are available for cheaper (Concannon, Foppiano, Peachy Canyon 05, Bogle 06)
Winemaker’s Notes (fact sheet .pdf)
My grandfather, John Rolleri, was a Napa Valley grape grower back when the California wine industry was just gaining notoriety. His favorite grape was Petite Sirah, and because it had been a passion of his, I, too, developed a fondness for the varietal. Once I became a winemaker, I sought out prime Petite Sirah vineyards, and started experimenting with different winemaking techniques for this grape variety. After all these years of working with Petite Sirah, I’m proud to include this wine in our Diamond Collection. I hope that more wine drinkers can experience this wonderful varietal. [HELL YES! -- Loweeel]
The fruit for this wine is grown in diverse regions throughout California. Immense color saturation and intense aromas of sweet, juicy boysenberries set the stage for a wine loaded with lush, jammy fruit, and long, lingering flavors of plums, blackberries, sage and a hint of smoke.
Pairs perfectly with lamb chops, brisket, or creamy mushroom soup.

Tasting Profile
Appearance: Deep purple
Aromas: Crushed berries, sage, and smoke
Flavors: Black plums, currants, and vanilla
Appellation: California
Blend: 100% Petite Sirah
Alcohol: 13.44%
Total Acid: .57
pH: 3.73
Barrel Regimen: 16 months in French oak
Released: March 2009
Suggested Retail $19.00 [ironic, given that they charge $20 for it! -- L]

I've also discovered that FFC also makes a port-style PS in its Reserve (highest-end) series, sourced entirely from Ruby's Vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley ($30, available from FFC -- they don't list the bottle size, but CellarTracker has it at 500ml).
The Varietal (fact sheet .pdf)

Petite Sirah is a powerhouse red grape that makes dark, inky wines that are peppery, heavy on the tannin and chock full of delicious blackberry flavors. Because of its heady nature, this varietal is ideal for producing a Port-style wine, which is produced by stopping fermentation while there is still sugar left in the wine and then adding grape brandy to the tank. The resulting wine becomes higher in alcohol, as you may well imagine, and well suited for aging. Ports made from Petite Sirah typically offer juicy flavors of baked blackberry pie, sugared plums and sweet black cherries as well as notes of dark chocolate and seasoned wood.

The Wine
Our Petite Sirah is grown in Dry Creek Valley. This appellation has a diversity of microclimates and soil variations, which enables it to accommodate many different grape varietals. Petite Sirah ripens beautifully in the warm northern section of the region and gathers much complexity due to the soil composition. After harvest, our grapes are placed in special tanks. When about half of the natural sugar in the grapes has been converted to alcohol, clear grape spirit is added to the wine, which causes the yeasts in the wine to die off. This effectively causes fermentation to cease, thereby creating a sweet wine. The port is then placed in small oak barrels for an extended cellaring period in order to subdue the tannin and heighten the flavor complexity.

Food and Wine Parings
Pair our Petite Sirah Port with chocolate or toffee desserts, hard or bleu cheeses, and toasted nuts for a decadent after dinner treat.

Blend: 100% Petite Sirah
Aged: 24 months in 50% new French oak barrels, 50% 1-2 year old barrels.
Alcohol: 17.5%

CUT. And that's a wrap.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More On PS Not PaSsing Its Prime

Via CellarTracker, here's another old Petite Sirah tasting. Most of the wines came through with flying colors. For scores, notes, and pictures, click on over, but here are the wines that they tasted and a bit about them:
  • 1975 Burgess, Napa Valley (13%) (91-95/100, Connoisseurs' Guide). We've tried this a couple times over the past 5 years or so, and the wine has developed a wonderfully fragrant nose of black cherries, vanilla and cream. Rich, lush, and layered in the mouth, it has shown no signs of reaching the end of its peak, even after 25 years
  • 1975 Caymus, Napa Valley (13.0%): The only Petite Caymus every made. Ink grade and seemingly ageless.
  • 1977 Ridge "York Creek", Napa Valley (5% Zinfandel, 13.6%): One of the all-time classic vintages from Ridge. In the same spirit as Ridge using a bit of Petite Sirah in many of their Zins to add complexity, so have they added a bit of Zin to this Petite to good effect. Ridge captures the minerally, spicy side of the York Creek Vineyard while Freemark Abbey features more the powerful fruit.
  • 1977 Burgess, Napa Valley (13.5%) (87-90/100, Connoisseurs' Guide) As this wine passes its 30th birthday, it has become a lovely, elegant wine, more reminiscent of an old Cote Rotie than a brawy Petite Sirah.
  • 1977 Mount Veeder "Niebaum-Coppola Vineyards", Napa Valley (13.5%): Mount Veeder's only Petite Sirah. Almost black purple. Black cherries and eucalyptus.
  • 1978 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Napa Valley (13.2%): Warren Winiarski is best known for his great Cabernets from the Stag's Leap region, including the 1973 which won the famed Stephen Spurrier Bordeaux-California Cabernet tasting in 1976. However, from 1978 through 1980, he experimented with Petite Sirah and produced a style different from most Petites from his contemporaries.
  • 1978 Stag's Leap Vineyards (13%): While Stag's Leap Wine Cellars is known for its Cabernets, Stag's Leap Vineyards [later Stags' Leap Winery] has always led with Petite Syrah. Their Petites from the 1970s are the benchmarks by which other Petites were measured, and this 1978 was one of his very best.
  • 1980 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, North Coast (13.2%): This was Warren Winiarski's last Petite.
I planned to open an old bottle myself last night, a 1977 Parducci PS (North Coast), but it was completely vinegarized. In fact, it looked like somebody had opened the bottle previously, and re-glued the (wax-ish, not tin) capsule head back to the top of the cork after recorking. My first completely spoiled (and possibly deceitfully-listed) bottle from WineBid. C'est la vie.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Are You PSycho about PS?

If so, then you might want to keep Tuesday, August 4, 2009 open, especially if you can get to Livermore, CA.
Well, it's the 7th Annual Petite Sirah Symposium, at Concannon Vineyards, the birthplace of varietal-labeled PS.
Didn't we just have Dark & Delicious?
Yes, but that's a totally different event.
How so?
Well, D&D is consumer-centric. The focus is on tasting wine, eating food, and having purple teeth. You're in and out in a few hours, and it's like a whirlwind of tannins.
And PSS?
Is not just tasting and schmoozing -- it's more academic. It is a gathering of Winemakers, Growers, and ProducerS. Here's more from Jo Diaz:

Each year, on behalf of Petite Sirah, this event gathers the best and the brightest Petite Sirah growers, winemakers, and producers. Topics traditionally include aspects of wine growing, wine making, and the marketing of Petite Sirah. Because this year’s event is going to be held at a much larger venue, the program has been expanded to include a media PS tasting after lunch in Concannon’s new barrel room. The Symposium is still going strong as it approaches its seventh year of fostering the best expression of this noble variety.

The day will include lunch, prior to the afternoon media event. This informal gathering of wine principles is also a highlight of the day, as growers and producers explore each others’ Petite Sirahs.

For all of you wine writers, bloggers, or trade people who want to explore the depths of PS out there, you’ll have about 40 winemakers all pouring their Petites for you, and another 40 wine growers, all available to talk with you about their passion… Petite Sirah. This is one event you don’t want to miss. Just let me know that you’re interested, and I’ll send you more details.
Will you be there?
Um... I'll do my best. Mid-week trips to California aren't the easiest for me, but I'll see what I can do. :-)

Friday, March 6, 2009


(Sorry about the lack of PoSting -- I got sick with something I caught on the airplane on the way home from Cali about 10 days ago, so I haven't been drinking much or had a ton of free time to PoSt. There's plenty to come).