Saturday, November 21, 2009

2007 Vincent Arroyo Petite Sirah Port

Oh my gosh, this is a fantastic port. The first sip sets a lightly heated tone where the subsequent sips the alcohol was less pronounced as the palate was acclimated. 17% alcohol. The flavors of the petite sirah are deep and intense. I felt bad opening this so young, but it was my brother in law's and he is impetuous so who was I to say no? Dark fragrant berries and jam, white peppery spices, depth and intensity that made me call it "better than sex in a bottle." Rich and lucious, decadent yet elegant and refined. This is a hugely wonderful wine and has become far better than the barrel samples we tasted in March. 94-95 points.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


In this week's wine.woot comment thread, Larry Schaffer of Tercero, Fess Parker (which also contains Fortress, a PS I found out about at the PSymPoSium and loved -- I hope they make a PS port called Fortification), and Epiphany fame, uPdateS us on the state of Petite Sirah down south in resPonSe to my asking Andrew Murray about his PlanS to grow PS:
I'll pipe in about the potential for PS in our area . . .

There is not a lot planted as of now, but more coming on line. The best in our area is Jaffurs which comes from the Thompson Vineyard - a stellar wine year in and year out and one of the best in the state IMNO.

Epiphany, whom you may have heard of (-:, also produces a great one from Rodney's Vyd, 20 year old PS vines planted on Foxen Canyon Road at the winery. Year in and year out, a great wine . . . and the 07 is off the charts!!! [2005 vintage; 2006 vintage]

I got into the PS game myself, and produced a 100% PS from Rodneys in 07 that I'll release in the Spring and a 50%PS/50% Thompson Syrah blend I call The Climb which I am releasing now . . . exciting stuff!

We grafted some syrah over to Petite Sirah at our Camp 4 Vineyard, taking cuttings both from Rodneys (Palisades clone) and cuttings from the Rockpile AVA (!!!). I got some of the Rockpile fruit this year and all I can say is - WATCH OUT! I think that the climate at Camp 4 is pretty darn great for PS - let's give it a bit of time and see for sure!
I can't wait to try all the new PS that Larry's coming out with... maybe he'll even consider signing up for Dark and Delicious 2010...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


So my good friends at Vincent Arroyo accidentally duplicated my standing order and sent me 2 cases instead of the one case that was 2 bottles of 2006 Winemaker's Reserve, 4 of 2007 Rattlesnake Acres PS, 2 of house PS, 2 of Sangiovese, and 2 of their Chard (yes, one of the few cali chards that I like).

Loving this winery and being a generally honest guy, I called them up and let them know. They initially were going to send a return shipping label (so eating about 45-50 in shipping charges), but I suggested that I instead share the bottles with local wine store owners and sommeliers (like Andrew from Lelabar and Christy at Frankly Wines) who might be interested in PurchaSing, as VA does not use distributors.

Here's hoping that I manage to spur more interest and PaSsion for PS! (or VA does, with me being the middleman).

I'm working with Jo Diaz to hopefully get VA to come to Dark and Delicious 2010. Wouldn't that be a treat?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Visit to Vincent Arroyo 3/3/09

Vincent Arroyo only sells his wine at at his winery. An engineer gone good, he makes some interesting and great wines. All wines estate grown. I went here on a trip in the Spring of 2009 to taste his Pietite Sirahs and also soample their other offerings.

  • 2008 Chardonnay out of the fermenting vat. Sold out of bottle chardonnay. Light and crisp, will be mixed with some oak aged chard later after clarification. Nice. $24, 85 points

  • 2006 Nameless. A Bordeaux blend. 70% CS, 17% M, 13% CF. Nice, needs time. $30. Can’t score this yet to do it justice. Maybe 88 points.

  • 2006 Entrada. Nice, needs time. 55% Syrah, 31% CS, 15% PS $65. Can’t score this yet to do it justice. Maybe 88 points. I liked the cheaper Nameless is a better drinker now, but this has potential.

  • 2006 Petite Sirah. Intense, tannic, beautiful. Complex flavors, drinkable but it could lie down. $32, 89 points.

  • 2006 Winemaker’s Reserve Petite Sirah barrel sample. Another year aged in barrel than the last, intense and better. Dark chocolate and tobacco. Deep berry flavors. $45, 91 points.

  • 2007 Rattlesnake Acres Petite Sirah barrel sample. 60 YO vines. Round, supple, fruit forward flavors. Beautiful! $50, 91 points.

  • 2007 Port barrel sample. Petite Sirah based. Spectacular. We had three samples of this! $22 375 ml, 92 points.

This was certainly a wonderful place to visit. They gave us a couple of bottles of wine as it was two of our party members' birthdays after ordering about $400-500 of their not yet bottled wines for shipment in the fall.

Reviewed by Steve Jones

2007 McManis Family Vineyards Petite Sirah

I first encountered this wine in San Francisco. I was out doing consulting work and training in September 2009 for the City of San Francisco and picked up two bottles of McManis Family wines for my hotel room while there. One was the 2007 Petite Sirah, which blew the other one away (2006 Zinfandel). I’ve tried many of the McManis wines, but this is by far the best of the entire line. I did not write up any notes on it back then, but I did note to get some more of this. I picked up another bottle to share with family and friends this past week. Binny’s in Chicago had it for $9.99 a bottle, which is about as good a price as you will find on this.

I opened the wine and a rush of fresh fruit was evident just by popping the cork. I poured a small amount out and was immediate hit with a huge dark fruit and jam nose with some volatile alcohol. There were blackberries and other dark berries and a hunt of cedar, too. The color was a dark reddish purple. A quick sip gave me the same impressions. The flavors were verging on being a fruit bomb, but not quite. It was full and mouth-filling. I let it sit and breathe for awhile.

As I returned to the wine in about a half hour, the volatility was pretty much gone. The flavors were intense and full on the front and mid palates. The flavors lingered for a good long time in my mouth. As I drank this over the course of the next two hours I marveled that this was only a $10 wine. The fullness of the fruit and intensity of flavors belied its’ cost. There is an intensity rarely found in inexpensive wines that this wine had.

I love a good PS but have often been put off with the inexpensive ones. Guenocs’ PS at a similar price point is about the best I’d found prior to this one, but McManis is clearly head an shoulders over that; the Guenoc is not bad but this is very, very good. If I have to give this a score I would have to say it is at least an 88 point wine. I went back and bought a couple more bottles over the weekend. This is sure to become a “go to” every day sort of wine for me at this price. This is clearly one of the top QPR PS’ out there.

Reviewed by Steve Jones