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.

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