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 www.biale.com
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 www.calderwine.com
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 www.chasecellars.com
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 www.frogsleap.com
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 www.switchbackridge.com
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 www.titusvineyards.com
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 www.tressabores.com
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 www.stantonvineyards.com
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 www.salvestrinwinery.com
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 www.nealvineyards.com
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 www.kenefickranch.com
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 www.priestranchwines.com
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) www.patlandvineyards.com
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 www.psiloveyou.org.