25 October 2010


One of the more clever marketing slogans I've seen since I started paying attention to wine is the name of the Petite Sirah advocacy organization: PS I Love You. When I was contacted by Jo Diaz, I jumped at the chance. Petite Sirah is not particularly rare, but not terribly well known either. "Oh, does that mean half a glass of Syrah?" Also known as Durif, it's a cross between Syrah and Peloursin, and the tiny berries have a lot of concentrated flavor. However, skilled winemakers can shape it in a number of ways, and especially in Sonoma it is a delightful blending addition to Zinfandel.

I tried these wines with a group of friends and for a few people it was their first introduction to the grape. I'd encourage any wineblogger that has a bunch of samples on hand to invite some acquaintances to help with the tasting. (Note that the greatest PS tasting of all time was Fredric's Blind Tasting of '07, also involving PS I Love You.)

2008 Line 39 Petite Sirah
Lake County
$9, 13.5% abv.
Boysenberry and blackberry, medium tannins, slightly ashy and short finish.

2007 Victor Hugo Petite Sirah
Paso Robles
$13, 13.8% abv.
Raspberry and ash and earth. Little brambly. This and the Line 39 were big favorites due to their bold profiles and big fruit. I was surprised to see the big bold versions be so popular.

2009 The Crusher Petite Sirah
Don Sebastiani
$18, 13.5% abv.
Big and jammy, wild blueberries, touch of spice, creamy finish.

2008 Vina Robles Petite Sirah
Paso Robles
$26, 15% abv.
Sharp and tart, with big tannins. Overripe strawberries and a little earthy nose.

2008 Diamond Ridge Petite Sirah
Lake County
$18, 14.5% abv.
Blackberry and eucalyptus, with a big tannic finish. Dark fruits, roasted plums, deep lingering flavors. This is a great one to show off if you have friends that love the huge brassy Zinfandels. It's not overpowering, but you get a whole lot of fruit here.

2007 Parducci Petite Sirah
$11, 13.5% abv.
Dark and closed, very light body, mild, earthy.

2007 Parducci True Grit Petite Sirah
$30, 14.5% abv.
Plum and black cherry, light body, mild, earthy as well. Much better than the other Parducci, and one that went exceptionally well with steak and creamed spinach.

2007 Clayhouse Petite Sirah
Red Cedar Vineyard
$25, 14% abv.
Violets, mild, plum, blackberry. Light, low tannins, and a pleasant finish. Serve with roast duck or good cured pork.

2007 Clayhouse Show Pony Petite Sirah
Red Cedar Vineyard
$40, 14.6% abv.
The aroma is similar to the above, but the body and flavor are a lot different. This one is tarter, leaning more towards raspberry. With some breathing it softens out, and I would recommend it as a good pairing with high quality pork chops stuffed with diced apple and raisins.

2007 Clayhouse Late Harvest Petite Sirah
$30/375mL, 19% abv.
Nice black cherry, deep, dark fruit, prune, and stewed fruit flavors. Of course, since it's California you can't call it a Port, but this is a Port in everything but name. We served this with a selection of chocolates from around the world, and it was a big hit with the assembled group.

I had one latecomer that showed up after the tasting and photos, but it was a big and powerful Petite Sirah.

2007 Pedroncelli Petite Sirah
Dry Creek Valley
$15, 14.3% abv.
This one displays elements of violets, cherry, and pepper, with big bold tannins. Petite Sirah can be delicate or strong, fruity or restrained. It all depends on the winemakers, and there are enough quality wines out there on the market that you can explore a wide world of flavors within a small grape.

Note: These wines were received as samples.


Jo Diaz said...

Great story, Benito! Love the heart, but then... you know me... PS I Love You

fredric koeppel said...

Benito, thanks for the mention. That was a great tasting. (About half those wines came from P.S. I Love You.) I haven't seen the Clayhouse Late Harvest version; I'll have to see if they'll send me a bottle.

Benito said...


I didn't know if the Blogger software would show color tags in a title element, but it worked. In theory I could do Burgundy posts with burgundy letters, and Vinho Verde in green, but I'm not going to go crazy here. :)


That was honestly one of the most fun tastings I've ever been involved with, and I've used it as an example of how there's no reason to be embarrassed during a blind tasting. Lots of people with way more experience than me were fooled on that one.

The Clayhouse Late Harvest is a wonderful "we can't call it Port" wine. Bogle used to make a similar product--I'm not sure if they still do, but I think the Clayhouse version is better. I also enjoy the Zinfandel fortified wines from Marietta. Sometimes it's fun to see a grape expressed in a different manner than usual.


Beth Jones said...

Lava Cap Winery loves PSILY and Jo's work! Sorry to miss the chance to sneak wine into TN- Us boutique wineries have little chance with the crazy rules in the shipping departments. Please try our 2006 Petite Sirah and 2007 Petite Sirah from our estate vineyard (Granite Hill) when you have the opportunity.

Benito said...


I will certainly be on the lookout, and I thank you for the interest in my site! Like I said, I've got a lot of fondness for this little grape and I encourage everyone to give it a try.