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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

You Might be Drinking a Lot of Petite Sirah

You could be drinking Petite Sirah and not know it. Petite Sirah is a cross between Syrah and an obscure Rhone grape, Peloursin. It's inky in color, full-bodied, it can be a little spicy, and tannic (mouth-drying). Sometimes you might say it tastes like bright blueberries. The "bright" comes from the high acid; "blueberries" is a typical fruit flavor.

On its own as a varietal it's still not very popular probably because of the drying tannins although some wineries are doing pretty good tannin management now.

So how is it that you're drinking so much Petite Sirah?

Going back to the 1970s there were about 14,000 acres of PS in California. It dropped to 2,400 by the 1990s and is now back up to about 10,000. Why the turnaround? Red blends.

Petite Sirah is a great blending grape. You often see it in Zinfandel and Syrah. You may see some in other wines where the winemaker is just trying to get a little color, tannin structure, and body in an otherwise thin wine.

Where you're really seeing it is in the inexpensive red blends from the Central Valley (Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys plus Lodi). These warm-climate inexpensive reds can often use a little "muscling up" and Petite Sirah is just the grape to do that.

If you're interested in trying a Petite Sirah on its own some of the more famous ones in California come from Bogle, Concannon, Field Stone, Foppiano, and Pedroncelli. Bogle is the easiest to find and the least expensive one here. Field Stone, Foppiano, and Pedroncelli are all from Sonoma County. Some others from Sonoma County you may want to seek out are from Bacigalupi, Carlisle, Quivira, and Trentadue.

Once you have a Petite Sirah what do you do with it?  Grilled meats!

These are tight clusters so not much air gets in
This can cause rot
So Petite Sirah grows best in warm, dry climates
like California and Australia
It doesn't do so well in its home in France