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With my fellow Pisces buddies, Christina and Erica, enjoying a day of belated birthday toasts. Here, we’re with Rory Williams of Napa’s Tres Sabores, son of Julie Williams, the winery’s owner/ founder/ winemaker.

Welcome back, my friends – I hope you’ve enjoyed the quartet of posts about our terrific private tasting of German wines, and the talented, engaging men and women who made them (and poured them for us)!

Today, I’m smuggling you into another specialized – and very special – wine tasting. (I promised you lots of “insider” content, right?) This one is a celebration of Petite Sirah, which happens to be a personal favorite of mine.

 

Tres Sabores Petite Sirah, which they describe as “our most rambunctious wine” – with “abundant Marionberry, cedar, and roasty-chocolate notes.” As for food pairing, “It’s perfect with BBQ or roast lamb with molé!” They call their hearty red blend, Por Qué No, “a party in a glass”!

 

Kent Rosenblum, who founded Rock Wall Wines in Alameda with his daughter Shauna, pours Christina the powerful yet smooth 2013 Petite Sirah.

There’s nothing at all “petite” about Petite Sirah! Quite the contrary, as our palates are reminding us today. This big, brash, brazen red varietal, in fact, is one of the most tannic, teeth-staining, inky-dark wines out there.

Also called Durif, after the French botanist who hybridized it, it’s a cross between Syrah and a little-known French grape called Peloursin.

Some theorize that it’s called “Petite” because, genetically, it’s a “child” of Syrah. (Guess that’s as good a theory as any….)

 

Turley Wine Cellars has for decades been known for its huge, full-bodied reds – including Petite Sirah – owing to ancient vineyards whose grapes develop concentrated flavors.

 

My longtime friend Chris Sawyer, aka “Sommelier to the Stars,” holds a bottle of “Solidarity” from Justice Grace Vineyards, which is “dedicated to social justice.” Eric Cohen makes several Petite Sirah-based wines, some organic and/or biodynamic.

Compared to, say, Cabernet, Pinot Noir or even Zinfandel, Petite Sirah is not all that well known. Relatively few wineries make it, and relatively few “casual” wine drinkers have even tasted it. It’s rarely a “go-to” wine – surprising, because it’s really delicious, and it costs lots less than those more popular reds.

But, as with so many good-things-just-waiting-to-happen, Petite Sirah has its ardent fanatics. And thanks to the PS I Love You advocacy group, Petite Sirah fans recently gathered to taste the good stuff.

 

I first discovered Robert Biale wines about 25 years ago, in a wine judging. It was a real treat to sample the current vintages of Petite Sirah, as well as a “library wine” (see decanter).

 

Kelly Peterson and her son Devon, who represent the fourth and fifth generation of family grape growers, poured current and “library” Petite Sirahs from the estate vineyards of Switchback Ridge in Napa.

This year’s PS I Love You event took place at the Culinary Institute of America, now housed at Copia in the city of Napa.

An easygoing, walk-around tasting with over two dozen wineries pouring, it gave us a great opportunity to sample current vintages of Petite Sirah, as well as quite a few older “library” selections.

 

The corkscrews were out in full force as corks were popped on bottle after bottle of Petite Sirah.

Theodora “Theopatra” Lee of Mendocino’s Theopolis Vineyards pours her Rosé of Petite Sirah.

 

Two chefs, two grills, two carving knives – *lots* of happy wine tasters!

 

Slices of rare grilled lamb on thinly sliced baguette. Simple, delicious, perfect!

In addition to the appetizers we started with (mmm – pork-belly sliders!), a pair of chefs on the back terrace worked nonstop – grilling, carving and serving up incredible slices of rare lamb and tender chicken.

Later on, I heard that Petite Sirah legend Carl Doumani, of Stags’ Leap Winery fame, had donated… well, I’ll let my friend Jo Diaz, a founder of PS I Love You and its executive director – who led me to the organization years ago – tell you all about it (just click)….

 

Rare lamb – a big reason I’m still an unrepentant carnivore. And Carl Doumani was absolutely right. Lamb is a perfect partner for Petite Sirah – and our thanks go to him for donating such a generous amount of it! (BTW, his winery, ¿Como No?, makes only Petite Sirah.

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Well, my friends, I hope you’ve enjoyed our Petite Sirah adventure. Tomorrow I’ll have a very special announcement for you (preview below)….

Until then, as always,
Cheers and happy tastings,
Rosina

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Cheers once again, my friends,
Rosina