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Washington Petite Sirah – A Brief Primer

Alexandria Nicole Petit Sirah

Petite Sirah was first bottled as its own varietal in 1961 by Concannon of California. Known as Durif in France and elsewhere, Petite Sirah was originally misidentified as Syrah when it was planted in California. The term ‘petite’ stems from the relatively small size of the grapes.

As recent as 10 years ago very few Washington wineries bottled a Petite Sirah. There are now dozens producing Petite Sirah including Dusted Valley, Covington, Angel Vine and Alexandria Nicole. California Petite Sirahs from producers like Turley and Ridge are generally drinkable upon release but often have the stuffing to age for decades. Are Washington Petite Sirahs cut from the same cloth?

I decided to put this to the test by opening a couple of recent releases.

2010 Angel Vine Petite Sirah StoneTree Vineyard – 14.8% ABV. 150 cases produced. Purple, almost inky in color. Dark and brooding. Not showing much on the nose. Gritty, burly and chalky on the palate. Plum, blueberries and scorched earth flavors. This wine is a very big wine and needs some time in the cellar. My rating: 87 points.

2010 Alexandria Nicole Petite Sirah “Mr. Big” – 14.4% ABV. 188 cases produced. The grapes are from Destiny Ridge Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. Opaque purple in color. Aromas of black cherries, licorice and wet stone. Cherries and tar on the palate. Big, drying tannins. My rating: 87 points.

For my palate the jury is still out: The bottles tasted above lack the opulent fruit that I associate with California Petite Sirah. Nonetheless they are delicious wines that pair well with food. Both wines were better on the second day and will clearly benefit from some years in the cellar.

If you are a fan of Washington wine you would be well served to explore this up and coming varietal. And, as always, I would love to hear about any Washington Petite Sirahs that you have found noteworthy.

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