The Wine Stained Teeth Are Worth It
The folks over at PS I LOVE YOU, the Petite Sirah Appreciation organization sure do know how to put on an event.
Ginny and I skidded through the rain this evening to check out the variety of Pets at Rosenblum Cellars in Alameda, California where the "Dark & Delicious" tasting put on by Jo Diaz and PS, I Love You was held. It was a feast…in every sense of the word.
You really have to gear up for a Petite Sirah tasting. This is a varietal that is very unforgiving in its youth. It is so often a hugely stuffed, substantial wine with rip roaring tannins and teeth staining density of color. The only way to mitigate this character is with food. And that’s something they had a lot of at Dark & Delicious. I ate lamb fixed five or six ways, pork delivered in numerous styles, beef on a variety of skewers and other edible delivery vehicles, a couple types of prawns, 14 different types of cheeses, one great Shepard’s pie, and chocolate in more ways than I can count.
There was lots of mitigation goin on.
My preference is to drink Petite Sirah at 10 years of age. It could be that I’m just a tannin wimp. But I don’t think so. Petite Sirah ages so damn well that at ten years you still tend to have great dollops of fruit left, softer tannins, a color that puts most 10 year old CA wines to shame and that a somewhat heightened, though much better integrated pepper character that sometimes it is a bit too upright in the wine’s youth.
MY PETITE SIRAH REVELATION
My real Petite Sirah Revelation was a 25 year old Foppiano Petite that we served at tasting I put on the for the media in 1994. It was the oldest wine in what I recall was a 15 or 20 year vertical tasting. We wanted the media to walk away thinking Petite Sirah = Foppiano Vineyards. I knew that wasn’t going to be a difficult sell. At the time there just weren’t many wineries devoted to the grape and perhaps only 4 or five wineries that had made anywhere near the number of varietally marked Petites as Foppiano had.
My main concern was the current vintage and the barrel sample. Those were the wines I wanted the Foppiano and the media to focus on. In my mind, the 1969 Petite was on the table for retrospective purposes only.
Well, damned if that wasn’t the wine everyone was talking about. I should have known. But I didn’t. But I understood when I tasted it: Fresh, exotic, staying power in the glass, tannin fruit.
Today there are many more Petite producers. It works well for todays I-love-them-big drinkers. The cool thing about Petite is that it’s big NATURALLY. Tonight I enjoyed the Rosenblum Rockpile, Foppiano Estate, Biale, Harrington, Stags’ Leap, Concannon and Ripken.
Try this varietal. Explore it. It’s not the amazing value it used to be but you can still get outstanding Petite Sirah at a price far less than outstanding examples of most other varietals.