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Wine Blogging Wednesday: Petite Sirah

Dec 11, 2007 |  WineBlogWeds_Posse (1) |  Wine Tasting |  0 comments

For Vinquire's first foray into Wine Blogging Wednesday, we recruited nine friends to sample ten California Petite Sirahs. They ranged from very characteristic Petite Sirah styles, to tame, crowd-pleasing California reds, to what some of us found to be Italian-style reds.

Overall, some of us doubted that Petite Sirah could stand on its own. The core flavors were marzipan/licorice, some metallic iron, and a general wildness and disparity of elements—those who liked it call it "savage and brambly", those who didn’t simply called it uneven and inconsistent. Our general opinion by the end: while the varietal has some potential, it clearly doesn’t stand on its own as a classic.

Now the reviews!

Tier 1: Our two favorites were quite clear:

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards Durif, McDowell Vineyards, 2004

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Avg points 87.4

We felt like this one was the truest expression of the varietal.
Nose: rust, iron, marzipan, soy sauce, smoke
Mouth: Tart, licorice, smoke, heavy bodied, salted plums
Finish: Evolves from licorice to tar

Storrs Petite Sirah, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2004

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Avg points 85

Nose: mineral and blood
Mouth: blackberry and brambly fruits, savage and wild with lots of spice
Finish: a bit hot and burning, with notes of unripened berries

Tier 2: The middle-of-the-road wines:

Huntington Petite Sirah, 2005

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Avg points 84

Note: for 2 of us, this was in the top two!

Concannon Petite Sirah, Central Coast, 2004

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Avg points 83.75

A nice California-style wine, that still had some of the marzipan and licorice that we decided was the Petite Sirah core. A decent everyday wine but with little character.

Bogle Petite Sirah, 2005

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Avg points: 83.75

An easy to drink, fruit forward, with a hint of peppercorn, and generally more consistent wine that most of us agreed stood out: it had a very different, smoother, character than the other wines we tasted.

Amphora Petite Sirah, Dry Creek Valley, Mounts Vineyard, 2004

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Avg points 83

We decanted this for a while, since it was so tight and tannic when we first tasted it. But after two hours, it hadn’t opened up much. It was a very meaty red, inky, blueberry jam and dried overripe blueberries, with a very tight, astringent finish.

Fearless Petite Sirah, Central Coast, 2005

Avg points 80.66

To some of us, this smelled like a Pinot: vanilla and strawberry, sour cherries, tobacco, leather with notes of herbs de provence.

Stonehedge Reserve Petite Syrah, 2005

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Avg points 79.5

Some of us (notably the person who bought this bottle) tried hard to like this wine—and even they failed! Avoid the 05, we have some positive feedback from the 03 though.

Oak Grove Reserve Petite Sirah, 2005


This turned out surprisingly Italian-style. Violet, camphor, salty caramel, with smooth mint and a tart finish. No average points … we were apparently getting tipsy!

Inheritance Petite Sirah, 2005


The dominant note was ether: sweet medicinal. The mouthfeel, though, was watery, and the finish short. What did I say about tipsy?
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