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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Petite Sirah

A Petite Sirah kind of meal

Why doesn't anybody drink Petite Sirah?

OK, I have some ideas why.

1. How do you know when is an optimal drinking time for a Petite Sirah? You don't because it's never ready until all of a sudden it's over-the-hill. (Just kidding ... kinda).

2. Nobody knows what it is. It's not Syrah. (Who wants a "petite" one when you can get a regular Syrah?)

3. Confusing styles:
"Old style" meaning really drying when young--much more than Cabernet even.
"New" fruity style that's approachable when young -- same idea as the "fruit bomb" Zinfandels.

Characteristics of CA Petite Sirah

PS can be inky, dark, dense, and tannic when young. It's been used more as a blending grape with Zinfandel in California. Petite Sirah is "old California" in that they just don't make it like that any more.

You want your dentist to really hate you when you go in for a cleaning? Drink Petite Sirah.

If you're serving a young PS decant or use your wine aerator.

CA Producers

Some California producers that have been in the Petite Sirah business for a long time are Concannon, Field Stone, Foppiano, Lava Cap, Parducci, and Pedroncelli. There are others in the modern "fruit-forward" style that produce small quantities of expensive PS. But Petite Sirah should never be more than a $30 wine.

Concannon Petite Sirah, the '78 I think, was my first "wow" wine in that, "Wow, wine can taste like this!" Field Stone Alexander Valley Petite Sirah has been my favorite over the years.

Food matches

What sorts of foods go with PS? In the summer any red meat BBQ is great. Pretty much anywhere you'd serve a Cabernet. I usually think of heavy, beefy dishes when I think of Petite Sirah as it's a heavy, beefy wine.

Petite Sirah is also a good wintertime wine. Just like beer folks tend to switch to heavier, darker beers in the cold weather Petite Sirah is a darker, heavier wine. Think of PS as the Stout of wines.

I admit I don't have many in my own cellar. I've got some Field Stone, Meeker, Teldeschi, and Valley of the Moon Petites. Still, that's more than I have of Carignane (Carignane??).

Zichichi Petite

I recently discovered a new (to me) Petite Sirah producer. A tiny Dry Creek Valley operation called Zichichi. They had a couple estate Zins, a Cab, and an estate Petite Sirah. She had just opened a bottle of the 2006 so it was tight and tannic as young PS usually is, but will be a very nice wine. "Inky, blackberries" is the way I'd describe it. Only downside I could see was the $48 price tag.

More info

If you want to find out more about Petite Sirah check out PS I Love You.