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Posts from the ‘Petite Sirah’ Category

2002 Turley Petite Sirah Library Vineyard – Bottle Notes

Turley Wine Cellars was founded in 1993 by Larry Turley and specializes in small lots of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah from some of California’s most historic and treasured vineyards. Turley now makes 28 separate wines from 35 different vineyards, some with vines that date back to the late 1800’s. Tegan Passalacqua is the Director of Winemaking at Turley and has been instrumental in revitalizing the brand.

The Library Vineyard was planted between 1880 and 1920 directly behind the St. Helena Public Library. Primarily Petite Syrah vines mixed with a myriad of others, including Peloursin, Cinsault, Syrah, Mission, Alicante Bouschet, Grand Noir, Carignan, Grenache, and Zinfandel. There are also a number of white grapes, such as Muscat Alexandria, Muscadelle, Burger, and Green Hungarian.

Light red in color and a surprisingly low 13.8% ABV. Amazing nose of currants, leather and menthol. Medium body with gobs of acidity. The wine is somewhat lean compared to the Turley Zins of this era but still has great aged fruit flavors that are like a laser beam on the palate. Dried cherries, iron, mint and cassis in spades. Medium length on the finish. In retrospect, had I tasted this blind, I’d have likely guessed a twenty year old Barolo. Fascinating wine that I wish I had more of. Drink over the next decade.

My rating: 95 points.

With all due respect to Carlisle and Bedrock, Turley is arguably the best Zinfandel producer in California. Exceptional vineyards sources throughout the state of California and no detail spared in the winemaking process. The wines are simply better than ever.

Turley wines are available via the mailing list and periodically at retail. Turley has tasting rooms in both Amador and Paso Robles. If you are not on the mailing list, this is an easy way to secure bottles. Both are not to be missed if you are in the area.

Turley was a big winner in The 2016 Zinfandel Chronicles Power Rankings.

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2013 Robert Biale Vineyards Petite Sirah “Royal Punishers” – Bottle Notes

Robert Biale Vineyards in Napa has its roots in the 1930s, when the Biale family started growing Zinfandel grapes and other produce on the outskirts of Napa. The family grapes mostly were sold to local wineries, though the Biales saved some to make wine for the family. The winery was formally founded in 1991. The estate grows Zinfandel and Petite Sirah on 25 acres in Napa Valley.

Opaque purple in color. 14.9% ABV. Dark fruits, blueberry liqueur, espresso and flowers on the nose. Full bodied with decent acidity. Plush, immense and mouth coating. Blackberries, iron and some combination of bitter chocolate and milk chocolate on the palate. The finish just cruises until you pick up the glass for another sip. Delicious wine. Drink now with a long decant or stick it in the back of your cellar for up to 10 years.

My rating: 92 points.

The Royal Punishers Petite Sirah is $42 at retail and via the winery. By the way Royal Punishers is an anagram. Scrambled together from the names of the tow parent grapes of Petite Sirah: Syarh and Peloursin.

This review was based on a sample provided by the winery.

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2012 Navarro Vineyards Petite Sirah – Bottle Notes

Located in the Anderson Valley, Navarro has been producing exceptional, fairly-priced wines since 1974. The winery is best known for its range of Pinot Noirs, including the showstopper Deep End Blend (available through futures). They also produce an age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon a delicious Zinfandel and their whites are noteworthy with a one-of-a-kind Riesling, Gewurztaminer and Muscat Blanc.

Purple in color. 14.2% ABV. The first Navarro Petite Sirah since 2006. Black cherry, grilled meats and cassis liqueur on the nose. Full bodied with medium acidity. Rich and still somewhat backwards. Cherries, blackberries and some white pepper on the palate. Somewhat coarse tannins on a long finish. Drink  over the next 5-7 years.

I have to hope that the Petite Sirah becomes a wine that Navarro makes year in and year out. Available at the winery.

My rating: 90 points.

I previously wrote about Navarro in If I had to Pick Just One Wine Club, It’d be Navarro. You absolutely must visit the winery if you are ever in the Anderson Valley.

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2005 Switchback Ridge Petite Sirah – Bottle Notes

Switchback Ridge wines are sourced from the Peterson Family Vineyard in Calistoga. The property has been in the Peterson Family since 1914 and was replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah in 1990. Bob Foley has been the winemaker since the inaugural vintage in 1999.

Inky purple in color. 16.4% ABV. Chocolate, black fruits and melted licorice on the nose. Dense and full bodied with medium acidity. Blackberry liqueur, white pepper, black cherry and raisins on the palate. Chalky tannins on an exceptionally long finish. This is a very big wine so pick your spots wisely when opening. Drink over the next 5-7 years.

My rating: 91 points.

Switchback Ridge wines are only available via their allocation list. The Petite Sirah is a buy for me every year at a mailing list price right around $55. On a short list of the very best domestic Petite Sirahs.

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2005 Outpost Petite Sirah Howell Mountain – Bottle Notes

Outpost Wines was established in 1998 and sits on a pristine piece of land atop Howell Mountain 2200 feet above Napa Valley. Thomas Rivers-Brown has been the winemaker from the start and has gained further acclaim making highly sought after wines for Schrader, Rivers-Marie and many others. Besides Petite Sirah, Outpost also produces Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.

Pitch black in color. 14.6% ABV. Concentrated blue fruits, violets and wet pavement on the nose. Big and brawny with medium acidity. Blueberry syrup, cocoa powder and bacon fat on the palate. Complex wine with layers upon layers of flavors. This wine coats the palate but the tannins are manageable. Drink over the next 3-5 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Outpost wines are only available via the mailing list and sell out quickly. Highly recommended.

I blogged about Petite Sirah previously in Petite Sirah: California’s Most Age Worthy Varietal?

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2004 Switchback Ridge Petite Sirah – Bottle Notes

Switchback Ridge wines are sourced from the Peterson Family Vineyard in Calistoga. The property has been in the Peterson Family since 1914 and was replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Sirah in 1990. Bob Foley has been the winemaker since the inaugural vintage in 1999.

Opaque purple in color. 16.4% ABV but the wine shows not even a trace of heat. Blue fruits, crushed stones and baking spice on the nose. A complete blockbuster. Full bodied, mouth coating and powerful. Blueberry liqueur, iron, licorice, cassis and white pepper on the palate. Chalky, omnipresent tannins. The finish is endless. Drink anytime over the next decade.

My rating: 95 points.

Switchback Ridge wines are only available via their allocation list. The Petite Sirah is a buy for me every year at a mailing list price right around $55. On a short list of the very best domestic Petite Sirah’s.

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Dunning Vineyards 2010 Zinfandel & Petite Sirah – Bottle Notes

Dunning Vineyards is a small, family owned and operated winery making limited-production, artisan wines from their vineyards on the far West side of the Paso Robles appellation. Winemaker Bob Dunning and his family planted the secluded mountainous vineyards in 1991 with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay. The vineyards were expanded a few years later to include Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah.

I was contacted by Bob Dunning who offered the opportunity to try a few of their wines. I was intrigued after learning they were neighbors of Saxum, a favorite winery of mine.

2010 Private Reserve Estate Zinfandel – 15.5% ABV. Deep magenta in color. Gorgeous red fruits on the nose. Fresh raspberry, loganberry, pepper, cherry liqueur and cloves on the palate. Rich, jammy and thickly textured. The finish is long and supple. Impressive! 375 cases produced and $38 at the winery. My rating: 92 points.

2010 Reserve Petite Sirah – 15.5% ABV. Completely purple in color. Aromas of black fruits and white pepper. Blackberry cobbler, peppercorn, anise, mint and a touch of vanilla on the palate. The wine is unctuous with amazing viscosity. Supple but firm tannins. The sweet finish literally lasts for over a minute. This wine is stellar right now but has the stuffing to age effortlessly for at least a decade. 150 cases produced and $45 at the winery. My rating: 93 points.

I’ve been buying and collecting wines since right around the time Dunning Vineyards planted their first vines in the early 90’s. I like to think I have a pretty good grasp on the attention-worthy wines in my favorite regions, yet somehow Dunning managed to fly under my radar. It’s safe to say these wines completely exceeded my expectations.

Dunning Vineyards is open for tasting Thursday-Monday. On top of that, they have a guest villa on their property that I hope to check out on a future visit to Paso Robles.

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Washington Petite Sirah – A Brief Primer

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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Petite Sirah: California’s Most Age Worthy Varietal?

Petite Sirah was first bottled as its own varietal by Concannon in 1961. The wines made in these early years were huge, tannic, extracted wines. Some of the better examples like Ridge York Creek, Freemark Abbey, Stags’ Leap and David Bruce were thought to be wines capable of aging for 30 or more years. Therein though was the problem as most consumers don’t buy wines to cellar for that long and these wines were almost capable of ripping the enamel off your teeth if you drank them upon release.

When I first started buying and cellaring wines in the early 1990’s the appearance of Petite Sirah on the shelf at a wine store was a rare occurance. The varietal was on the verge of irrelevance. In 2002 Diaz Communications began a campaign to resurrect Petite Sirah. Through relentless marketing and promotion Petite Sirah has staged a comeback. Longtime producers like Ridge and Stags Leap have been joined by hot wineries like Outpost, Turley, Carlisle, Foley and Switchback Ridge. All the while wineries like Bogle, Concannon and Foppiano continue to produce staggering case volumes of Petite Sirah year in and year out.

Another factor in the renaissance of the varietal was a concerted effort on behalf of producers to make wines that are more user friendly. Better tannin management has supposedly made the wines more approachable in their youth.

I decided to put this premise to the test by pulling some bottles from my cellar:

  • 2004 Outpost Petite Sirah Howell Mountain – The wine has an an amazing nose of fresh, ripe raspberries. On the palate there are jammy raspberries and cherries with a strong dose of pepper and anise. There is no getting around the wall of tannins on this wine as well. The wine has a long, tannic, jammy finish. My rating: 91 points
  • 2005 Switchback Ridge Petite Sirah – Sit tight. 16.4% alcohol by volume. Cherry liqueur on the nose. Massive structure but in no way hot or over-ripe. Chocolate, cherries, prunes and blackberries. There is simply a massive amount of fruit on this wine. Perfect acidity keeps everything in balance. Drink over the next 20 years. Wow. My rating: 94 points
  • 2004 Turley Hayne Vineyard Petite Sirah – Still opaque purple in color. Raisins and blackberry liqueur on the nose. Blackberries, raspberries and chalk on the palate. Their is a unique sweetness to this wine that is irresistible. The finish is long and sweet. A massive, port like wine. My rating: 95 points

My takeaway from opening these bottles? Many of the Petite Sirahs produced today still have the capacity to age for 25 or more years. That being said, they can also provide immediate enjoyment if you choose to open a bottle now.

This is a unique varietal that deserves space in your cellar. I’m on the hunt to add more Petite Sirah to mine. Who are your favorite producers?

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2004 Outpost Petite Sirah Howell Mountain – Bottle Notes

Outpost sits atop Howell Mountain and strives to make world class Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Grenache from an amazing estate vineyard. Thomas Rivers-Brown has been the winemaker from the very start. He has also gone on to start his own winery, Rivers-Marie, all the while making truly exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon for Schrader amongst others.

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