Ageworthy, Bold, Captivating and Delicious – Petite Sirah! 

Gems in MY Glass . . ., Petite Sirah, Tasting Notes

I recently attended the 5th Annual Napa Valley Petite Sirah Breakfast at Robert Biale Vineyards. Talk about a wakeup call!  A delicious spread of savory quiche, breakfast potatoes, fresh baked biscuits and multiple selections of the finest bacon around was paired with this bold, intense wine. Good Morning indeed!

Petite Sirah, also known as Durif, originated in France.  It is a cross of Syrah and the lesser known French variety, Peloursin.  I’ve been a devotee of Petite Sirah for several years, and in my opinion, it is one of the most ageworthy varieties.  I recall tasting a 1967 Foppiano Vineyards (Sonoma County) Petite Sirah in the late 90’s, and it was showing incredibly well.  Yes, that’s right – at 30 years of age!

Many of the fascinating Napa Valley Petite Sirahs I had the pleasure of sampling at this tasty event also promise years of enjoyment, into the next decade and beyond.  Here are my impressions:

Robert Biale Vineyards 2014 Palisades Petite Sirah; Calistoga, Napa Valley, California:  Floral and dark fruit aromas captivate, as this assertive, cellarworthy Petite Sirah approaches the nose.  On the palate, the wine exhibits impressive complexity and balance, with layers of blackberry, bittersweet chocolate, blueberry compote, anise seed, and underlying spice notes from French oak aging. It boasts a firm structure, supple tannins, and a long and memorable finish.   SRP:  $55

Calder Wine Company 2014 Petite Sirah; Rutherford, Napa Valley, California:  From organically grown vines comes this delightful, expressive Petite Sirah.  Inky in hue, it is lush, juicy and bright in the mouth, with blackberries, plums, spice, a splash of citrus, and underlying oak nuances.  Broad and intense yet elegant at the same time, with meticulous balance and fine grained tannins.  SRP:  $30

Chase Cellars 2014 Barberis Vineyard Petite Sirah; Napa Valley, California:  This fragrant and ageworthy Petite Sirah opens with gusto!  Well defined layers of black cherry, cranberry chutney, plum and black raspberry fruit interlace with licorice, oak spice and pleasing earthy accents.  Luxurious and round yet immaculately balanced, as approachable tannins and rockin’ acidity carry the dense fruit to an everlasting finish.  SRP:  $75

Frog’s Leap Winery 2014 Petite Sirah; Rutherford, Napa Valley, California: Fresh berry fruit on the nose leads the way to a powerful display of blueberry, spiced plums, sweet huckleberries, earthiness and a subtle touch of herbs on the palate.  Oak spice (from 20% new oak) adds dimension, while firm tannins and nice acids offset the concentrated fruit; full bodied and nicely crafted.  SRP: $40

Switchback Ridge 2013 Peterson Family Vineyard Petite Sirah; Calistoga, Napa Valley, California:  The black-purple hue sets the stage for the power and intensity of this mouth filling Petite Sirah. Enticing and confident on the nose and palate, delivering aromas and flavors of cassis, elderberry liqueur, orange-scented blackberry marmalade, mocha and savory spice. Firm tannins, depth of fruit and bright acids speak clearly about its ageworthiness.  SRP:  $60

Titus Vineyards 2014 Petite Sirah; Napa Valley, California:  Hints of earth and spiced berry compote rise from the glass.  This wine is smoothly textured and succulent, with flavors of marionberries, warm cherry pie, ripe plums, blackberries, spice cake, a hint of cocoa, and attractive oak accents coating the mouth.  Rich and tasty from the pleasing entry to the plush finish.   SRP:  $38

Tres Sabores Winery 2012 Guarino Vineyard Petite Sirah; Calistoga, Napa Valley, California:  Here is a fruit driven Petite Sirah that is far from shy.  Engaging at first whiff with red and black fruits, this on point wine expands deliciously, as spiced blackberry jam, succulent purple plums, huckleberries and hints of toast unwind on the palate.  Concentrated and deep through the persistent aftertaste.   SRP:  $45

Stanton Vineyards 2014 Petite Sirah; St. Helena, Napa Valley, California:  Deep and complex, this powerhouse opens with dark berries and floral scents.  In the mouth, layers of black plums, wild berries, a twist of fresh cracked peppercorns, and oak nuances (aged 21 months in French and American oak) join energetic acidity.  Full bodied and muscular, with a backbone of firm tannins; drink now or hold.  SRP:  $45

Salvestrin Winery 2014 Estate Vineyard Petite Sirah; St. Helena, Napa Valley, California:  This 100% Petite Sirah offers up gorgeous dark fruit aromatics.  Intense and juicy from first sip, as blackberries, melted chocolate, plum preserves, savory spice, and well-integrated oak meld in harmony.  Deftly balanced and structured with a subtle suggestion of mint on the extended finish; appealing now, with years to go.  SRP:  $49

Neal Family Vineyards 2011 Rutherford Dust Vineyards Petite Sirah; Rutherford, Napa Valley, California:  From certified organic vineyards comes this pure, fruit driven wine that arouses the senses.  Well composed, with a velvety texture on the palate, where boysenberry, ripe plums, black cherries, vanilla bean and spiced olive tapenade interlace gloriously.  Graceful and vibrant with refined tannins. SRP:  $35

Kenefick Ranch 2012 Petite Sirah; Calistoga, Napa Valley, California:  Forest fruit aromas capture the senses.  This vivid and balanced Petite Sirah, blended with 10% Merlot, broadcasts blackberries, Bing cherries, blueberries, spice, and almond paste notes. Oak treatment is perfectly managed (aged 18 months in 10% new, 90% seasoned French barrels), and the texture is satin smooth.  A long finish completes the lovely package.  SRP:  $45

Priest Ranch Winery 2011 Petite Sirah; Napa Valley, California:  Bright and flavorsome, this wine offers up black fruit aromas, followed by sun-kissed blackberries, raspberry jam, licorice and savory spices filling the palate.  Luscious and pure, with silky tannins, a firm structure, and finely integrated tannins.   The lively thread of acidity provides a perfect complement to the lip-smacking, dense and long-lasting fruit.  SRP:  $40

Patland Estate Vineyards 2014 “D’Oro” Port style Petite Sirah; Napa Valley, California:  Here is a decadent way to cap off an evening. Concentrated flavors of boysenberry jam, roasted pecans, caramel, Kirsch, brown spices, orange zest and a trace of crushed spearmint weave a heavenly fabric across the palate.  Fortified with Germain-Robin Alambic Brandy and aged 20 months in French oak, it is opulent, multi-layered and skillfully balanced through the remarkable finish.  SRP:  $80 (375ml)

Petite Sirah is grown in many appellations in California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, among other areas across the country.  It is also grown outside of the USA, in countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Mexico, and South Africa.  Visit the above noted websites, schedule a visit, or check with your favorite wine merchants to pick up a few bottles to sip or cellar, and discover which wines suit your palate. Gain further information about this bold and beautiful variety, and learn about other fine producers, by visiting the Petite Sirah Advocacy Organization, P.S. I Love You website at




Heavenly Pairings With Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah

This month a delightful celebration brightened the skies of over Concannon Vineyard in Livermore, CA, in honor of Jim Concannon’s 80th birthday and the Ninth Annual Petite Sirah Symposium. This annual sold out event, was well orchestrated by P.S. I Love You Executive Director, Jo Diaz, and sponsored by Concannon Vineyard. As you have gathered from earlier posts, I am a huge fan of this petite grape that transforms into mighty, delectable wines. In addition to a host of informative, engaging speakers, there were many impressive examples of Petite Sirah shared throughout the day. It was my pleasure to speak about “Heavenly Pairings with Petite Sirah”- a summary follows for your enjoyment:

Hearty Beef Stew: Fully structured Petite Sirah marries beautifully with thick, aromatic beef stew, each carrying powerful flavors to the table. The richness of the stew compliments the lush fruit and nicely woven texture of Petite Sirah. Comfort food, comfort wine!

Filet Mignon topped with blue cheese: The pungent, intense flavor of the blue cheese accenting the tender beef stands up nicely to a full bodied Petite Sirah. The protein content of the beef and fat content of the cheese tones down the tannins of a muscular Petite Sirah.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with spice rub (black pepper, sea salt and sage): This is fun to match with a plumy, spicy Petite Sirah as the spice flavors of both the dish and the wine can echo one another nicely and the fruitiness stands up to the spice. The charcoal grilled meat can also bring out smoky, toasty notes in Petite Sirah.

Beef Tenderloin served atop onions reduced in Petite Sirah: Wow, this works with a big, bold Petite Sirah. The richness of the beef compliments the jammy fruit in the wine, and the concentrated wine reduction sauce brings out the sweetness of the onions. The depth of flavors in the dish can handle a dense and lush Petite Sirah.

Roasted Venison with blackberry compote: Roasted game is a pleasing match with zesty, supple Petite Sirahs that showcase savory game aromas. Using blackberries in the dish also enhances the blackberry notes in the wine, marrying the two together harmoniously.

Beef Stroganoff: The sour cream in the stroganoff sauce really highlights the creamy plush texture of a Petite Sirah, and I like how the mushrooms and spice in the dish can bring out earthy qualities in the wine.

Blackened Salmon: Fruit driven, jammy Petite Sirah can take the heat of blackened salmon. The wine’s ripe, dense fruit tones down the exotic spices in the dish. This pairing broadens the depth of delicious flavors that comingle delightfully and display an enticing kaleidoscope of flavors across your palate. A great example of successfully pairing seafood with red wine.

Eggplant Parmigiana:  I also like vegetarian fare, and I was pleased when pairing a Petite Sirah with plenty of plumy fruit and spice with this eggplant dish. In addition to it standing up to the savory spice in the sauce, the creamy mozzarella cheese also tamed the tannins.

Petite Sirah with Cheese

A cheese appetizer or cheese course after a meal also works well with Petite Sirah, which calls for full flavored cheese selections.

My favorites include:

Rosenborg Danish Blue Cheese: tangy, ripe with a touch of salt, this pairs with a wide range of Petite Sirah styles. The salty notes nicely offset a deep and fruity Petite Sirah and the wine and cheese both show peppery notes and match well in weight, too.

Swiss Gruyere: This flavorful cheese holds both sweet and salty notes. When young it is creamy and nutty, highlighting the creamy texture of a round lush Petite Sirah. With age this cheese takes on an earthy note, marrying well with an earthy, spicy Petite Sirah.

Italian Gorgonzola: Also very creamy in its youth, I like this melt in your mouth cheese with a densely fruited Petite Sirah. When aged the cheese is pungent, robust and spicy, and works terrifically with a big, bold, complex Petite Sirah.

Aged Cheddar: Rich and robust, this cheese is another one that hits the jackpot with a variety of styles of Petite Sirah.  A lush and plummy Petite Sirah was just right paired with Fiscalini’s Bandaged Wrapped Cheddar from Modesto CA; a delicious cheese boasting a classic sharp cheddar flavor without the bite.

Aged Gouda: I recently paired Frisian Farms aged Gouda from Des Moines Iowa with a dense black fruit dominant full-flavored Petite Sirah. The complex cheese brings out the depth and spice of Petite Sirah and flavors meld together deliciously.

Step outside the box; be adventurous in your food and wine pairings, after all, who’s palate is it, anyway?

More Powerhouse Petite Sirahs

Petite Sirah, Tasting Notes (1 Comment)

Epiphany 2004 Petite Sirah, Rodney’s Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley
Essence of warm blackberry pie with nutmeg and all spice accents captivate the nose and carry richly through mid palate. Beautifully structured, with great depth and purity of fruit that deservedly command full attention. Ends with a touch of vanilla and spice on the persistent finish. Delicious with a spicy lamb ragout served over savory polenta.

Miro 2005 Petite Sirah, Sommers Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley
Darkly hued, with stunning aromas of concentrated berries, peppery spice and a hint of leather wafting from the glass. Explosion of juicy black plums and crushed blueberries take center stage on the palate, surrounded by spice and mineral notes. Powerful fruit and firm tannins are nicely balanced and coat the mouth fully. A complex, ageworthy wine that will go the distance. Pair with a sizzling steak diane!

Parducci 2004 True Grit Petite Sirah, Mendocino County
Big, bold and hearty; just like a Petite Sirah should be. Aromas of wild blackberries and vanilla lead to a mouthful of dark juicy plums accented by a glorious crown of black pepper and anise. Plump, rich texture shows nicely after aeration, rounding out the edges of this powerhouse petite sirah. Serve with a roasted filet mignon with Roquefort sauce.

Ursa 2004 Petite Sirah, El Dorado
Aromas of succulent, jammy blackberry fruit and lip-smacking grape candy lure you into the glass. Gobs of juicy blackberry and boysenberry flavors and a dash of spearmint command full attention on mid palate. Spice notes add complexity to this beautifully structured wine that lingers seductively on the finish. Serve with herb encrusted lamb and a fresh mint sauce.

Ursa Vineyards 2004 Vineyard Blend Petite Sirah
Crushed blackberries and plenty of spice greet the nose invitingly. A luscious mouthful of concentrated plums and mixed red and black fruit explodes on the palate and the intensity continues throughout. With just the right touch of oak, this petite sirah drinks beautifully now; yet shows plenty of structure and tannins to go the distance. Pair with roasted venison with plum sauce – heavenly!

Mounts 2005 Petite Sirah, Dry Creek Valley
Dark inky hue, with deep, pleasing aromas of warm mixed berry compote and herb scented vanilla notes. Love the purity of fruit on mid palate! Blueberry and blackberry flavors galore, velvety tannins, with subtle spice and a hint of smokey tobacco adding complexity. Serve with lamb noisettes and a mixed berry compote.

39 Degrees 2005 Petite Sirah, Lake County
Dusty wild red berry aromas up front; soft and approachable with bright cherry and strawberry flavors and a hint of spice dancing on the palate; this petite sirah is nicely balanced with an elegance about it! Serve with a cherry stuffed pork tenderloin.

Potent & Powerful Petite Sirah!

Petite Sirah, Tasting Notes

Huge, monstrous, yet called petite? The only thing petite about this varietal is the size of the berry (about half the size of syrah berries!) Maybe you are not clear about the difference between petite sirah and syrah? Let me help solve the mystery! Petite Sirah (also called Durif) is the offspring of syrah. Petite Sirah’s two parents are syrah and peloursin.

I love this big bold varietal – it’s ripe fruit and spicy characteristics on the nose carry through with explosive flavors on the palate; and it is one of the most age-worthy wine varietals produced in the new world. It can be smooth and voluptuous on the palate, yet showcase big, firm tannins that give it such longevity. A balance of fruit and tannins is part of the secret of this amazing varietal. Below are a few gems I’ve recently tasted:

Bogle Merritt Island 2004 Reserve Petite Sirah
Opens with brilliantly focused blackberry and vanilla aromas leading to a smooth, abundantly satisfying entry. Lively spice notes frame layers of succulent blackberry, black raspberry and black currant flavors on mid palate. Nicely integrated oak with pretty vanilla notes, along with firm tannins, and plenty of structure and complexity suggest long term aging potential, if you can wait! If you can’t, pair this with robust short ribs with a Petite Sirah reduction sauce – Yum!

Bogle 2005 Petite Sirah, California
Fruit from Clarksburg and Lodi blend to create a pleasing palate of mixed berries from start to finish. Ripe, juicy black fruit dominate the core, with a hint of oak and a dollop of spice that add interest on the palate, make this is a friendly, approachable wine. Pair this Petite Sirah with lamb and vegetable kabobs sizzling hot off the grill!

Silkwood 2004 San Joaquin Petite Sirah
The enticing warm berry compote that lifts enticingly from the glass is a mere hint of the goodness to follow! Gobs of rich, jammy boysenberry with a subtle hint of anise coat the mouth gloriously, and the round creamy texture adds to the fullness and purity of fruit. Paired with grilled venison topped with a berry compote would be heavenly!

Robert Biale Vineyards 2004 Thomann Station Napa Valley Petite Sirah
Intense inky black purple hue gives you the first clue this is Petite Sirah. A prolific cornucopia of spices and hint of florality in the nose lead to concentrated blackberry and cassis on the palate with spices weaving throughout. Lush and full, with beautifully structured tannins that will live on for years and years. Pair with a big dish – a Cuban pulled pork with a Petite Sirah mojo sauce would be a delicious match!

Robert Biale Vineyards 2004 Royal Punishers Napa Valley Petite Sirah
Deep, dark inky color with provocative, mysterious aromas. Once it hits your palate, the intense and chewy berry and leather notes prevail! Gorgeous viscosity – richly mouthfilling with copious dark berry flavors and a muscular structure – powerful. This will likely be another incredibly long lived wine! Pair with a slab of savory barbecued ribs – mmm mmm good!

Foppiano Vineyards 2004 Russian River Estate Petite Sirah
Inviting earthy, wild berry aromas promise a potent mouthful and this wine surely delivers! Rich and full with generous dark berry and peppery spices that tantalize the mid palate. Pleasing spice and earthiness carry throughout, with a nice dash of cocoa on the lingering finish. Persistent firm tannins – absolutely an age-worthy wine. Marry with a Petite Sirah doused mushroom ragout served over a spice-rubbed roast; scrumptious!

Langtry Estates Guenoc 2005 Lake County Petite Sirah
Vanilla and blackberry pie aromas lure you further into the glass, and a brilliant burst of concentrated berries with an anise accent enliven the palate. This wine boasts a rich and smooth texture with a black pepper kick on the finish, and velvety tannins tame the power. I enjoyed this wine with a few savory cheese selections including Maytag blue, extra sharp cheddar, Pecorino and Arina goat cheese; all worked deliciously!

Oak Grove 2005 California Reserve Petite Sirah
All about berries in the nose, this is a soft and fruity, easy to drink Petite Sirah with pleasant red berry and cherry notes and a sprinkle of spice that opens up on mid palate. Nicely balanced with a clean finish. Drink now with a burger hot off the grill!

Mettler Family Vineyards 2004 Petite Sirah
This darkly hued Petite Sirah from the Lodi appellation grabs your attention with dense blueberry and wild berry aromas laced with a hint of menthol. Complex, with cedar and herb notes that tiptoe through the robust plummy, ripe berry core. Plenty of power, yet this wine finishes elegantly. Serve with braised lamb shanks prepared with a splash of Petite Sirah of course!

Concannon 2004 Limited Release Central Coast Petite Sirah
Alluring aromatics of bright raspberry and black cherry blend harmoniously with vanilla, mixed spices and herbal tea notes on mid palate. Perfectly balanced with medium bodied tannins and a beautiful focus on purity of fruit. What a bargain at $14.oo. Paired with filet mignon prepared with a cognac, black pepper, raisin sauce – out of this world!

EOS 2004 Petite Sirah, Paso Robles
A pleasant earthiness along with concentrated blueberry and a touch of mint fill the nose. Tannins grab hold upon entry with dense blueberry and blackberry flavors taking center stage on the palate. Earthiness continues to thread throughout suggesting a meaty dish with mushrooms – pair with beef or lamb stroganoff!

EOS 2003 Cupa Grandis Paso Robles Petite Sirah
Whoa baby, talk about full bodied – layers upon layers of flavors! Here’s a tightly wound bundle of intense blackberry and black currant flavors with pretty oak nuances and spicy pepper accents that won’t quit! This hearty, full bodied rendition benefits nicely from decanting; and will definitely go the distance for years to come. Pair with a rich Steak Diane for a real taste treat!