15 December 2010

2007 Seven Artisans Petite Sirah

A couple of weeks after the big PS I Love You tasting, another stray Petite Sirah showed up at Casa de Benito.

Not only was it nice to try another Petite Sirah after the break, but it also allowed me to round out the selections from the Artisan Family of Wines. I reviewed the other two in July 2009. This particular one comes from the Suisun Valley AVA, a wine region directly to the east of Napa County.

Like with a lot of the other Petite Sirahs, I enjoyed serving this with some braised lamb shoulder and Brussels sprouts, though I think it would be fun to pair it with buffalo.

2007 Seven Artisans Petite Sirah
Suisun Valley
$17, 14.9% abv.

Dominant jammy aroma of blackberry and plum with just a little bit of mint. On the palate the wine has big tannins, dark plum flavors, and a long lingering finish. I found that it retained a bold profile even with two hours of breathing. It would be interesting to see how this holds up with another two or three years of cellaring.

It's been a while since I've talked about bottle design, and this is a striking example. The dark brown glass and dark wine render the bottle almost solid black, with gold ink applied directly to the surface of the glass. The distressed handwriting font happens to use a long s, though I can understand why they wanted to avoid the confusion of Arti┼┐ans.

The wine does not come with a foil or plastic capsule. I'm guessing that it was a design choice to maintain the simple gold on black look, but there are some winemakers who are beginning to phase them out. There are some minor cost savings to be had, and there's also an environmental concern: the glass and metal have to be separated before recycling. I won't particularly miss them if they go away--originally they were put on bottles to protect against rats chewing the cork or infestation of cork weevils. On the list of things that keep me up at night, cork weevils rank pretty low. Some producers put a disc of wax on top of the cork, which I absolutely hate. Over time the wax becomes brittle, resulting in a mess when you try to open it. The heat shrink plastic capsules? I'm somewhat indifferent, but at least they tear off easily.

In this case, the cork survived over time, the wine was not oxidized, the bottle looks great, and everything worked out. And no cork weevils either! I still prefer screwcaps for casual everyday wines, but this is another interesting option. Some traditions need a critical examination, like the practice of sniffing the cork or dropping lead pellets into wine.

Note: This wine was received as a sample.


Joe said...

good call on the bottle design. I really like the cork with no capsule. Don't know why. Just think it looks cool.

However, I am terrified of weevils.

Benito said...


It is a nice clean look, isn't it? Plus you can better examine the ullage and, depending on how dark the glass is, get a glimpse of what sort of condition the cork is in.

On the con side, some might consider it unsanitary--we're used to buying our food and beverages with some sort of seal on it, and a cork could always be pushed back in, right? I brought this up in a conversation with a winemaker that's getting rid of capsules, and they're considering a tag that goes over the top.