Nov 1, 2010 by

Don’t let the name fool you – there is nothing petite about this varietal (that’s why I did the caption all in caps- big letters for big wines!)! Petite Sirah tends to be big, bold and in-your-face. Good ones are loaded with black fruit, spice and meaty, smoky aromas and flavors and bad ones are like a song my son wrote,”Mr. T on PCP,” big, rough, tough-as-nails and out of control. The tannins in a poorly crafted Petite Sirah can suck all the moisture out of your mouth for hours, but the good ones are luscious and juicy and can have you begging for another sip, glass, bottle – hell, you’ll just want more!

This particular tasting is the brainchild of my friend and colleague-at-the-keyboard, Jo Diaz. Jo is the Executive Director of PS, I Love You, an organization dedicated to getting the big words out about these big wines. Jo, a few savvy wine-tasting buddies and I got together at Chinois Restaurant in Windsor last week and tasted through 16 Petite Sirahs. We had a blast, found a few gems in the line-up and ate some great Chinese food.

This is the first of a two-part review of Petite Sirahs from all over California. It is in two parts, because we had to break the tastings up by price point. The following wines are priced $20 and under – our next tasting will be Petite Sirahs priced from $21 – $60 and should happen within the next few weeks – stay tuned!

Ready? OK – here are the $20 and under Petite Sirahs that we really liked (a reminder – I taste a lot of wines every week and I do not write about the ones that don?t make the cut. My mom taught me “if you can?t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” so that’s how I roll. I simply don’t give bad reviews):

Panel Favorite!
Five Stars
Rock Wall Wine Company
2008 Mendocino County $20

This luscious wine reminds me of the scene in the movie “Willy Wonka,” where Violet turns into a giant blueberry and has to be rolled away by the Oompa-Loompas to be juiced. Like poor Violet, this wine is full of juicy blueberry (and blackberry, pomegranate, citrus peel, chocolate and peppery spice) aromas and flavors, all wrapped up in a soft, rich mouthfeel. This wine is a bargain at $20!

Four Stars
2007 Paso Robles $18

Enticing aromas of plum, blackberry, blueberry and cherry are enhanced by fresh herbal and floral aromas. The mouthfeel is huge, supple, smooth and balanced and loaded with black fruit and spice flavors.

Four Stars
2008 Lake County $17

This wine is loaded with blueberry, cherry, plum and sweet smoky aromas and flavors, all carried through in a velvety-smooth mouthfeel. Visualize Anthony Bourdain, wearing only his apron, shrouded in smoke and drenched in rich, tangy BBQ sauce and you’re halfway there. Oh yeah!

Four Stars
Line 39
2009 North Coast $10

This delicious wine is what we call a “fruit bomb,” because it explodes with blackberry, blueberry, cherry and plum aromas and flavors. There are some nice spicy, smoky notes to this wine as well. Waaaay too easy to drink and at only $10 a bottle, a super bargain too! Buy some! Buy some now!

Four Stars
2008 Earthquake Lodi $20

A roaring campfire, blackberry pie, freshly crushed mint and the slap of clean leather. Plush, velvety mouthfeel. Got it? If not, get some!

Four Stars
The Crusher (Don Sebastiani & Sons)
2009 Clarksburg $13

Pomegranate, blackberry pie with whipped cream, blueberry, lemon peel and spice aromas and flavors delight the nose and palate. Huge structure, but well balanced. Picture Shaquille O’Neil, airborne, dunking a warm blackberry pie through the hoop and you’re with me on my happy little planet. At $13, this is a must-buy!

2008 Petite Petit, Lodi $15

Freshy, fresh, fresh! Wintergreen Lifesavers, smoked meat and oodles of juicy black fruit all sing in perfect harmony here. The mouthfeel is huge, super smooth and really easy to enjoy.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the ping, Jo! Check out PETITE SIRAH, Part Two…


  1. Wine Blog » Blog Archive » A Petite Tasting That Was Huge, Of Course - [...] Sue Straight has written: PETITE SIRAH Part I [...]
  2. Wine Blog » Blog Archive » Petite Tasting ~ With the Big Boys - [...] and cherries. This wine was so smooth that we forgot it was a Petite Sirah. Everyone (Jose Diaz, Sue…

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