California Petite Sirahs
Petite Sirah is a crossing of Syrah and Peluorsin, discovered by a French botanist, François Durif and named Durif after him. Cuttings were sent to California where it was called Petite Sirah because the berries were smaller than those of Syrah. There, it produces better wines than in France and is grown throughout the North Coast from Napa to Mendocino. The wines are typically robust and spicy. Here are some examples tasted recently.
2017 Bogle Petite Sirah, California ($18) - This Clarksburg winery turns out a good value Petite Sirah. This vintage show a deep ruby color and smoky aromas of blackberry, blueberry, plum, black roses, tobacco and spiced incense. The flavors re robust and direct, with black and blue fruits that are intermixed with licorice, chocolate, roasted coffee beans and earth. On the back, the wine intensifies with macerated berries and roasted nuts, burnt charcoal and a dash of pepper on the finish. Purchased for $13.99 at Super 1. 18/20 points.
2017 Parducci "True Grit" Reserve Petite Sirah, Mendocino ($30) - I remember that back in the 1980's John Parducci was a strong proponent of Petite Sirah. This version presents a semi opaque ruby-crimson color and intense, smoky aromas of blackberry, black currant, Damson plum, black roses, lavender and spiced incense. The flavors mirror the aromatics with loads of up front black and blue fruits that are intermixed with black licorice, cacao, espresso and black earth. The saturation continues on the back with macerated fruits, grilled nuts and burnt charcoal, followed by a firm yet smooth tannin finish. Purchased at wine.com for $19.99. 18.5/20 points.
2017 Stag's Leap Petite Sirah, Napa Valley ($47) - This iconic winery is a top Napa Valley producer of Petite Sirah. This vintage shows an inky purplish color and intense, smoky aromas of blackberry, black currant, black plum, black roses, pipe tobacco, cracked pepper and spiced incense. The flavors are well packed, with black fruits that are infused with licorice, 85% cacao, expresso and black earth. The saturation continues on the back with macerated fruits, grilled nuts and brunt charcoal, followed by a lingering, peppery sweet-dry tannin finish. Purchased from the winery for $32.90 (30% off). Also available at Safeway for $37.99. 19/20 points.
2016 Foppiano Estate Petite Sirah, Russian River Valley ($28) - Foppiano is another old line North Coast producer of this variety. This shows a deep ruby color and rich aromas of blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, rosebuds, pipe tobacco, rubbed sage, peppercorns and incense. The flavors are thick and generous, marked by licorice, dark chocolate, espresso and Russian River minerals. The saturation continues on the back with pressed berries, framboise liqueur, mocha and toasty oak, followed by a spiced (nutmeg, cinnamon) ripe tannin finish. Purchased from wine.com for $26.99. 18.5/20 points.
For Washington State Petite Sirahs, the 2017 Dusted Valley will be in the October issue of the Review of Washington Wines, and see the September issue for the 2017 Va Piano, the August issue for the 2016 Hard Row to Hoe, and the April issue for the bargain priced 2018 Thurston Wolfe.
Italian Wines Tasted Recently
2019 Kris Pinot Grigio delle Venezia ($13.99 - Safeway) - When I owned Esquin, we sold a lot of this in the 1990's. This vintage shows a light grayish gold color and attractive aromas of pear, melon, lime, pear blossoms, acacia flowers and green incense. The flavors are bright and crisp with notes of grape and pear skins and sub Alpine minerals. The back picks up melon rind, toasted almonds and lime zest on the way to a refreshing finish. 18/20 points.
2015 Buglioni Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore ($28 - The Thief, Walla Walla) - Ripasso is made by a process that undergoes a second fermentation after the addition of macerated Amazon grapes. This version presents a deep ruby color and an intoxicating nose of wild raspberry, cherry, plum, fig, black roses, mulberry, tobacco and spiced incense. The flavors are intense, comprised of ripe and dried fruits that are accompanied by licorice root, espresso and minerals. On the back, the wine intensifies further with sensations of roasted berries and nuts, and cherry liqueur followed by a warm, spicy ripe dryish tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2016 Tenuta di Festina "Erse" Etna Bianco ($27 - The Thief) - Produced from Carricante grapes grown below Mount Etna, this is a striking white. It shows a deep lemon-gold color and a highly aromatic nose of pear, semi dried apricot, Sicilian lemon mountainside flowers and wood smoke. The flavors, as well, are intriguing, with semi dried yellow fruits that are accented by grape and pear skins and volcanic minerals. On the back, lively fruits emerge along with touches of hazelnut, lemon zest and toast on the maturing finish. 18.5/20 points.
2016 Setteporte Etna Rosso ($26 - The Thief) - Produced from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappucio grapes, this wine displays a ruby-garnet color and intriguing aromas of semi dried fruits - cherries, plums, oranges - with scents of crushed dried roses, mulberry, tobacco and wood smoke. The flavors mirror the aromatics with, again, semi dried fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, roasted coffee beans and volcanic minerals. The mid palate character continues on the back with macerated fruits, roasted nuts, dried orange peel and a bit of leather, followed by a sweet-dry tannin finish. 18.5/20 points.
2018 Pecchenino "San Luigi" Dogliani ($17.99 - wine.com) - Dogliani is one of the best sites for Dolcetto in the Piedmont. This one shows a ruby color and attractive aromas of raspberries, currants, plums, red roses, tobacco, cedar and wood smoke. The flavors are ripe and fruit forward, with notes of licorice, cola, medium roast coffee beans and Langhe earth. The chewy textured sweetish ("dolce") back picks up pressed berries, cherry and currant liqueurs and roasted nuts, followed by a satisfying dry finish. 18/20 points.
2017 Pecchenino "Sirī d'Jermu" Dogliani Superiore ($21.99 - wine.com) - This is Pecchenino's single vineyard Dolcetto. It shows a deep purplish crimson color and a perfumed nose of black cherries, black currants, black plums, black roses, sweet tobacco, lavender, violets and incense. On the palate, the flavors are rich and mouth filling, with dark fruits that are endowed with licorice, dark cocoa, Italian roast and Dogliani hillside minerals. The back reveals pressed fruits, cherry and currant liqueurs and roasted nuts followed by a sweetish ("dolce") yet dry ripe tannin finish that is lifted by fruit acids. 18.5/20 points.
2018 Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo ($30 - The Thief) - Produttori del Barbaresco is a well run cooperative. From the communes of Barbaresco, Nieve and Treiso, this 100% Nebbiolo shows a ruby-garnet color and classic aromas of cherry, currant, orange peel, crushed roses, tar and incense. The flavors are medium bodied but substantial, with red fruits that are imbued with licorice, black tea and Langhe hills minerals. The back reveals semi dried fruits (a trait of Nebbiolo), roasted nuts and mocha, followed by a fruit acid lifted dry finish. 18.5/20 points.