It’s Dark, It’s Delicious—It’s the Next Big Thing in Wine?

DandDPetite Sirah does need help. Among all the grape varieties that have long been grown in California vineyards, Petite Sirah is probably the most underrated and least written about. And yet, in the right hands, Petite Sirah can be among the most compelling drinks coming out of California vineyards.

The proof of this will be on display at the annual DARK AND DELICIOUS tasting, taking place this year on February 21 at Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda, California from 6:00pm to 9pm. Now in its 8th year, Dark and Delicious is the one and only large tasting of Petite Sirahs anywhere in the country. If you have any inkling, desire or need to taste through the variety of Petite Sirahs being produced in this state, there is no other better way to undertake that task than attending DARK and DELICIOUS.


Petite Sirah, being that it is a wine of generally very robust character and structure, really does shine best in the company of food. The organizers of DARK and DELICIOUS get this and that’s whPetite-Sirahy at this event also showcases 30 different food purveyors (primarily restaurants), which pair various dishes with particular Petite Sirahs. Do not, I repeat, do not eat anything before attending DARK and DELICIOUS.

The 40+ Petite Sirah producers at the event pouring upwards of 100 different wines all have at least one thing in common: they must make a decision on how to handle the the structure of this grape. Do you celebrate the tannin and richness? Do you attempt to tame it? Do you blend in a little Zinfandel as was long a traditional practice when Petite Sirah was a workhorse grape for winemakers in the 50s, 60s and 70s? Or, do you take the grape to another level and create a port-style wine with Petite Sirah, as many have and continue to do. The point is that despite the impression that Petite Sirah is just a BIG wine, in fact it is a grape that can and is turned into wine with great variation in styles.

My introduction to Petite Sirah came when in the 1990s I did PR and Media Relations for Foppiano Vineyards, one of longest running and greatest producers and proponents of the wine. One of the highlights of that relationship was producing a press tasting of 25 vintages of Foppiano Petite Sirah for the wine media. It was a profoundly influential experience for me. We presented Petite Sirah going back to 1967 and I sat next to the great Leon Adams, then the dean of the American wine media who had seen his share of Petite Sirahs. It was only a couple of years before Mr. Adams passed and he was in his late 80s. Yet he was quite taken with the display of Petite Sirah. As was I. Most impressive and impressionable upon me was the 1967 Foppiano Vineyards Petite Sirah. It’s leathery, baked pie, herbal notes and the slightest hint of maderization along with the supple tannins are still with me today and remind me that in the right hands, Petite Sirah not only impresses when young, but can be a revelation when aged.

danddwineDARK and DELICIOUS is a production of PS I Love you, a promotional organization that works to push Petite Sirah into the consciousness of wine consumers and the wine trade. Without this organization, I believe Petite Sirah would not have the profile it currently does, but still that profile can be heightened. The only way for that to happen though is for more people to taste this wine.

These days, certain wines come into vogue and are all of a sudden “discovered” again. In a flourish they get written about, talked about and we see new bottlings come on the market and a new generation get excited. We have seen that with Syrah, other Rhone varietals, Riesling and other wines. This is what I expect to happen sooner or later with Petite Sirah. And it’s likely to happen after a few people who attend DARK and DELICIOUS discover what they may have been missing.

February 21, 2014
Rock Wall Wine Company —Alameda, California
6:00pm to 9pm


One Response

  1. Jo Diaz - February 5, 2014

    thanks, Tom, for this story on Petite Sirah. I dare say, after working with Petite Sirah for the last 12 years, this is the only tasting in the world, with this much Petite. It’s the one and only…

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