VV22 marks the final leg of the Varietal Voyage where Sue and I will explore the last grape variety on our tick-list…petite sirah!
Petite sirah is often mistaken for other varieties and has a rich and interesting history. Petite sirah is actually a synonym for a variety called Durif, a cross between peloursin and syrah, discovered by a French botantist, Francois Durif, in 1880. The word ‘petite‘ comes from the fact that the berries are very small giving a higher ratio of grape skins to juice. The result is anything but petite, yielding powerful, inky wines with an aggressive tannic structure.
The 2006 Pickett Road Petite Sirah is the second wine from Rosenblum Cellars we have tasted on this journey. The first was the 2008 vintage of Kathy’s Cuvée (viognier) tasted for VV10. The Pickett Road Petite Sirah is one of Rosenblum’s seventeen “Vineyard Designates”, wines produced from distinct vineyards intended to showcase the uniqueness of their terroir. As the name suggests, the fruit for this wine comes from the Kenefick Ranch, just off Pickett Road, near Calistoga. Of the 125 acres at the Kenefick Ranch, a little over 10 precious hillside acres are planted with petite sirah specifically for Rosenblum Cellars. Sheltered by the Palisades at the northern tip of Napa Valley, this vineyard’s warm weather and rocky, volcanic soils are well-suited for petite sirah.
This is probably the second or third petite sirah that I have tasted in my lifetime, but this is the first that I have given any real attention. Knowing from past experience that these wines are quite tannic, I opened the bottle several hours ahead of time to help soften it a bit (decanting wouldn’t hurt either). This vintage has an extremely dark, almost opaque ruby hue with intense dark berries aromas and layers of musky spice. The full-bodied flavors are chewy and echo the aromas with the addition of some dark cherry and vanilla. But this wine isn’t just about the fruit. There is plenty of acid to stand up to the ripe fruit and the round tannins build up as it fades off into a soft chocolaty finish. Over the course of the evening, the tannins continued to soften, allowing more of the peppery spice to show through.
Just a few words of warning. If you are on a first date, do not order this wine unless you think your significant other can deal with stained lips, teeth, and tongue! Fortunately Sue and I have been married long enough that something like purple teeth only elicits the occasional awkward snicker!
2006 Rosenblum Cellars Pickett Road Petite Sirah ($30)
Varietal Voyage – See how it started…