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Volume 34, Issue 9: July 2010

Petite Sirah

In a slow but continuing climb back to full grace in California, this year’s versions of Petite Sirah edge closer to what might be called “brawny accessibility”. It matters not that massively tannic Petite Sirah can age for a couple of decades or more (a thesis we will test one of these days with wine from our cellars going all the way back to the early 70s). What matters is that this muscular wine, when not littered with unmannerly astringency, has a center of fruit that cuts through its mass and muscle as a mealtime mate to sturdy hunks of savory beef, lamb and venison. With wines of that ilk on the increase, Petite Sirah is likely to continue to gain popularity.



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Found 54 results. Displaying 31-54.
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91
MIRO
Petite Sirah
 Dry Creek Valley; Sonoma County 2007
$23.00
GOOD VALUE
Very Limited AvailabilityAgeBeef/Lamb
Miro has done an altogether remarkable job here at bringing a sense of winemaking polish to Petite Sirah without sacrificing the fundamental strength and sturdiness that are the varietal's signature gifts. Leading with very deep, slow-to-unfold aromas of blackberries, pepper and clove, the wine is rich and invitingly fruity with expansive, long-lasting flavors that show a bare hint of chocolate to the same themes of berries and spice. It is not at all sparing in tannin, yet it is never overly tough, and it is by all standards a complete and compelling effort.
Reviewed: July 2010
87
OLD CREEK RANCH
Branham. Obsidian Vineyard.
Petite Sirah
 Napa Valley 2007
$30.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeSpicy Dishes
Loaded with sweet spices that seem somewhat wide of the varietal mark, this wine earns kudos for its blackberry fruit and intriguing hints of soy, tea and root beer. It is supple to start on the palate then runs into coarse tannins in the late going and will need a bit of age or service alongside hunks of meat if it is to be enjoyed young.
Reviewed: July 2010
89
PARDUCCI
True Grit
Petite Sirah
 Mendocino County 2006
$30.00
Limited AvailabilityAgeBeef/Lamb
The Parducci True Grit Petite Sirah has become a perennial CGCW favorite, and the latest again hits the mark as classic Petite Sirah. Big and bold and showing plenty of varietal sinew and swagger, it balances plentiful blackberry fruit against its considerable tannins and never quite crosses the line into excessive toughness. It seems certain to grow for a decade or more but is so rich that forgiving fans of the grape will find lots to like in the shorter term.
Reviewed: July 2010
83
PEDRONCELLI
Petite Sirah
 Dry Creek Valley 2006
$15.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeBeef/Lamb
A bit tense and nervy on the nose with a sparse smattering of woody spice, this oddly hollow, decidedly crude customer lacks clear fruity direction right from the start and fails to find it as sere, tannin-induced dryness becomes its most lasting trait.
Reviewed: July 2010
84
RETRO
Old Vine
Petite Sirah
 Howell Mountain 2006
$45.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeBeef/Lamb
While it may not claim high alcohol, this fat and very full-bodied wine is in all ways fixed on ripeness, and its meager glimmers of dried-berry fruit are simply overwhelmed by dark chocolate and fierce, tongue-numbing tannins. It may be varietal, but it lacks a sense of balance and control, and it cannot but grow ever drier and drier with time.
Reviewed: July 2010
88
ROCK WALL
Petite Sirah
 Dry Creek Valley 2007
$22.00
Very Limited AvailabilityAgeBeef/Lamb
Better than its partner from Mendocino by dint of its increased fruit and slightly throttled-back tannins, this gutsy youngster sits securely on the varietal track. It ends with the taste of tea and black pepper even as a bit of acidity accentuates its astringency, but those with a penchant for Petite should find its toughness no more than par for the course.
Reviewed: July 2010
85
ROCK WALL
Petite Sirah
 Mendocino County 2007
$28.00
Very Limited AvailabilityAgeBeef/Lamb
Very ripe in the nose with glimmers of raisins set against sweet oak, dried flowers and a wisp of dried spice, this uneven wine is both tart and very astringent, and its colliding acids and tannins make things so coarse at the finish that it might still be tough after a generation has passed.
Reviewed: July 2010
90
ROSENBLUM
Reserve. Rockpile Road Vineyard.
Petite Sirah
 Rockpile 2007
$45.00
Very Limited AvailabilityAgeSpicy Dishes
Old-fashioned Petite Sirah of the type Rosenblum fans hope will continue to appear under the label now that is entirely taken over by the Diageo folks (Beaulieu, Sterling, Chalone) and had its production moved out of its long-time home winery, this gutsy, ripe, tannic wine is deep in berries and black pepper spice with more than a little richness to call its own. It is hard to get this much swagger into a wine and still have it stay in reasonable balance, but it has happened here.
Reviewed: July 2010
88
ROSENBLUM
Pato Vineyard
Petite Sirah
 Contra Costa County 2007
$25.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeSpicy Dishes
With intimations of game and roasted beef in its aromatic mix, this fully weighted, rich, chocolate-tinged bottling finds sufficient stores of expressive fruit at its heart to hold off the on-rushing tannins that stagger it in the finish. The wine's ability to hang on gamely at the end earns it kudos.
Reviewed: July 2010
86
ROSENBLUM
Kick Ranch
Petite Sirah
 Sonoma County 2007
$35.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeSpicy Dishes
Blunt, blocky, dense, smelling of overripeness but not as full in body as its nose predicts, this wine is a bit of a challenge because it does not have the fruit necessary to bring itself into complete balance. Its tannins will offend some, but aficionados will flock to its power and not mind.
Reviewed: July 2010
86
ROSENBLUM
Heritage Clones
Petite Sirah
 California 2007
$18.00
GOOD VALUE
Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeSpicy Dishes
Starting off well enough with plump, ripe, dried berry smells and adding in a nice touch of dried spice, this wine drifts away on the palate where its fruit comes up a bit on the short side to counter its wave of crashing latter-palate tannins. At the price, it is going to find plenty of takers who admire its no-holds-barred muscle.
Reviewed: July 2010
83
ROSENBLUM
Pickett Road
Petite Sirah
 Napa Valley 2007
$35.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeSpicy Dishes
Over the top pruniness and a sour edge drops this wine from any serious consideration, and even those who like bold Petite Sirah will still wonder what happened with this one. Its fleshy, soft and thick palatal impressions are followed by massive tannins that are its only varietal trait.
Reviewed: July 2010
82
SEVEN ARTISANS
Clayton Road Ranches
Petite Sirah
 Suisun Valley 2007
$18.00
Very Limited AvailabilityAgeBeef/Lamb
If possessing all of the toughness and very high tannins of Petite Sirah, this brushy, vaguely earthy, chocolate-tinged offering has virtually no compensating fruit at its heart, and its harsh, out-of-bounds astringency makes a second sip all but impossible.
Reviewed: July 2010
86
SILKWOOD
Stanislaus County
Petite Sirah
  2007
$39.00
Very Limited AvailabilityAgeBeef/Lamb
Out-sized astringency and extreme oak stand out before most everything else in this brash, very ripe, big-bodied effort, and, if a dollop of fruit lurks at the wine's heart, it fails to fully come to the fore. For all of its ripeness and sweet barrel spice, this one is ultimately defined by its twenty-year tannins, and only dyed-in-the-wool optimists need apply.
Reviewed: July 2010
88
SUMMERS
Petite Sirah
 Napa Valley 2007
$28.00
Very Limited AvailabilityAgeBeef/Lamb
What we like about this bottling is its uncommon brightness and juicy, ripe-berry fruit, and its ample infusion of sweet oak spice only adds to its immediate appeal. It starts out on a comparatively supple note, then quickly toughens and runs into a fair share of varietal tannins, yet it keeps a very valuable grasp on defined fruit right to the end. It will serve handily with hearty stews three or four years hence, but further unfolding assuredly awaits those with more patience.
Reviewed: July 2010
87
TRINITAS
Old Vine
Petite Sirah
 Lodi 2006
$22.00
Limited AvailabilityDrink NowSpicy Dishes
A bit of heavy-handedness shows up in this rich wine, but it has enough bacony, ripe blackberry, meaty character at its heart to overcome that minor distraction. It is, instead, full and supple at the front of the palate with a noticeable but not abrasive streak of expected astringency. It could use a few years of cellar aging but does not demand it.
Reviewed: July 2010
91
TRUE VINE
Petite Sirah
 California 2006
$38.00
Very Limited AvailabilityAgeBeef/Lamb
Although brooding and backward at first and a wine with no dearth of tannin, this brawny youngster possesses a wealth of rich fruit, and its sinewy toughness becomes easy to forgive. Ripe and spicy and redolent of blackberries from front to back, this is a solid and serious wine that makes no pretense to being other than pure Petite Sirah, and, as tough as it is now, it has the depth to develop for years and easily hold for at least a decade or two.
Reviewed: July 2010
87
TRUE VINE
Estate
Petite Sirah
 El Dorado County 2007
$28.00
Very Limited AvailabilityAgeBeef/Lamb
Ripeness is as prominent as keenly defined fruit here, yet this bottling conveys a certain accessible richness with suggestions of blackberries, earthy spice and chocolate running its length. It toughens up as pushy tannins take hold, but it does not dry out, and it has the concentration and depth to carry it for a good eight to ten years.
Reviewed: July 2010
87
URSA
Shell Creek Vineyards
Petite Sirah
 Paso Robles 2006
$22.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeBeef/Lamb
While this bottling displays a clear bias to ripeness, neither its chocolaty leanings nor its sizeable tannins get in the way of its expression of well-defined, somewhat peppery, blackberry fruit. Fans of the grape will find its astringency forgivable and, in fact, very much to the varietal point, and those with less tolerance to Petite Sirah toughness should find it a useful partner to savory stews in but a few years.
Reviewed: July 2010
85
URSA
Old Vines Reserve. Shell Creek Vineyard.
Petite Sirah
 Paso Robles 2006
$30.00
Very Limited AvailabilityAgeBeef/Lamb
If rife with dark chocolate and very dense on the palate, this brawny wine comes up short on the fruity essentials. It is full-bodied, fairly tough and a touch thick in feel, and it is too soon blunted by bitter back-end tannins and finishes with a bit of a thud.
Reviewed: July 2010
85
URSA
Vineyard Blend
Petite Sirah
 California 2006
$16.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeBeef/Lamb
But for its slightly outsized tannins, this bottling says little about Petite Sirah. It smacks loosely of cherries and red berries and is trimmed with a spark of acidy brightness. A bit lighter in body than is the varietal norm, it gets a little too puckery for its own good at the finish.
Reviewed: July 2010
84
URSA
Naggiar Vineyards
Petite Sirah
 Sierra Foothills 2006
$22.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeBeef/Lamb
The softest and ripest of the four Ursa offerings, this bottling starts out with a solidly spicy Petite Sirah nose, but its comes up heavy and flat on the palate with nominal tannins and a bit of heat surpassing its fleeting fruit.
Reviewed: July 2010
84
VICTOR HUGO
Petite Sirah
 Paso Robles 2007
$22.00
Very Limited AvailabilityDrink Now or AgeLamb
Moderately fruit and sweetly oaked at first sniff, then revealing itself to be somewhat less than fully ripened in its fruit, this wine is medium-full in the mouth and somewhat stiff in texture. Initial flavors of blackberries give ground to green acidity by mid-palate and offer limited hope for the future.
Reviewed: July 2010
91
VINA ROBLES
Jardine
Petite Sirah
 Paso Robles 2007
$26.00
Limited AvailabilityAgeSpicy Dishes
Let us start by saying that this is most definitely not a wine for the faint of heart, but then Petite Sirah is rarely chosen for its delicacy. This one is a big, expressive, fully-ripened version that seems sure to scare off those cannot abide high-alcohol reds, but the rest of us will find plenty to like in its deep, genuinely juicy blackberry fruit. It does not wander into chocolaty excess and is surprisingly well-balanced for the sizeable wine that it is, and, while it has a full complement of varietal tannin, it is no tougher than young Petite should be. Look for five to ten years of certain improvement.
Reviewed: July 2010
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Tasting Note View

Brief ViewFull View
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Rating System

THREE STARS:(95-98 points) An exceptional wine. Worth a special search of the market.

TWO STARS:(91-94 points) A highly distinctive wine. Likely to be memorable.

ONE STAR:(87-90 points) Fine example of a type or style of wine. Without notable flaws.

Note: Wines not marked with stars are often delightful wines. Each has unique virtues and any of these wines may be the best wine to serve your needs based on value, availability or for your dining and taste preferences.

95-98 3 Stars
91-94 2 Stars
87-90 1 Star
80-86 Wines of varying quality and value. See tasting notes for details.
70-79 Flawed wines to be avoided.

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Ageworthiness

Drinkable now. Unlikely to improve with further aging.

Drinkable now. Further bottle aging can improve this wine.

Cellar for future drinking. Wine will improve with bottle aging.

Not suitable for drinking.

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Food & Wine Pairings

Soft and fruity wine Quaffable by itself or with light foods.

Crisp white. Medium acid and dry. Fish or delicate flavored foods.

Mellow white. Dry to slightly sweet. Enough acid for white meats.

Full and balanced dry white. Try with rich seafood and fowl dishes.

Light Red and powerhouse White. Fowl, veal and light meats.

Medium Red. Balanced, good depth, medium tannin. Beef and lamb.

Robust Red. Full tannin, intense flavors. For highly spiced meat dishes.

Sweet Dessert wine. Enjoyable by itself or with sweet desserts.

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Availability

Generally available in most markets.

Limited production and/or limited geographic distribution.

Very limited availability.