02 February 2009

Two Petite Sirahs

Despite the fact that these two PS wines come from opposite ends of the earth, they use the same spelling. The whole (Petit ∨ Petite) ∧ (Sirah ∨ Syrah) ⇒ "a strong dark red wine" confusion hurts the grape overall and creates problems in inventories and web searches. Sales of PS wines could be huge but are potentially tracked as four separate varieties*.

There's no authoritative answer to this dilemma, so I always just go by what's printed on the bottle. But the abbreviation PS is growing on me, thanks in no small part to the advocacy group P.S. I Love You.

First up is the 2005 Big House Prodigal Son Petite Sirah. $13, 13.9% abv. Pure Petite Sirah from Paso Robles in California. Decanting is definitely recommended--it's got a powerful strawberry jam aroma that needs to blow off before you can properly enjoy it. Aromas of berries and tomato leaves, flavors of rare beef and black cherries. Strong, strong tannins. For some strange reason, this bottle is about an inch taller than other Bordeaux-style bottles.

This winery used to be owned by Bonny Doon, but was sold off a few years ago. The wines are still quirky and fun, though despite the rumors these are not actually produced by prisoners (I've covered real prison wine in a prior post).

Our second wine is directly opposite in body to the first one. The 2007 De Bortoli Petite Sirah is, as far as I know, the first time I've had this grape from Australia, and I hope it's not the last. $10, 13.5% abv. Earthy nose on top, with plum aromas. Surprisingly mellow with mild tannins and a pleasant cherry flavor. A delicate wine that tastes a few years older than its birthdate. Excellent bargain for the quality, and next time I'll try it with something more sophisticated than pizza.

*By Google popularity:
"petite sirah" - 402,000 results
"petite syrah" - 121,000 results
"petit sirah" - 36,500 results
"petit syrah" - 28,300 results


fredric koeppel said...

just the phrase "Google popularity" explains what's wrong with Google. It is indeed petite sirah.

Benito said...

But the confusion I was getting at is that some winemakers label their wines with alternate spellings, such as Spoto, Stags Leap, Chateau Diana, etc. In some cases the winery spells it one way on the label and another on the website, and I've seen all four spellings on shelf tags and on the backs of wine labels, particularly when it's used as a blending grape.

The Wine Commonsewer said...

It is indeed petite sirah.

Ahhhhwwwkkkkk. Iceberg, Goldberg, what the heck's the diff?

Nominated you today, Benito Boy, for a wine blog award at Fermentation.

Good luck!

The Wine Commonsewer said...

Oh I love the Bum Wines link, done that a couple of times myself. Blogged it, not drank it.

Very nicely done Amigo.

Paso is a great place for Petit Sirah and I have friends who grow it there. They call it Petite Sirah. I usually call it Petite Syrah, but I am being groomed to recant that terminology.

I think some of the pleasure of wine is these little quirks in vocabulary (or otherwise).

Benito said...


Thanks for the nomination, and regardless of PS is called I still love it. Fortunately this particular wine naming argument is really just about spelling and doesn't involve politics or centuries-old family rivalries.

fredric koeppel said...

Moan Sewer, would you feel the same way if a winery wrote "Cabernet Sohveenyon" on a label and then people decided (by "Google popularity") that it was a legitimate spelling? Yep, it does make a diff.