In a blog a few weeks back, I reported on the winery Switchback Ridge owned by Kelly Peterson and her 2004 Switchback Ridge Petite Sirah (see that blog here).
In this week’s blog I am reporting (one more time) on the grape variety Petite Sirah (Peh-teet-sear-ah), the American name for the French grape Durif. The grape was created in France in the 1860s by Dr. Francois Durif. It is said Dr. Durif was searching for a way to make the Syrah grape more resistant to powdery mildew. He successfully crossed the Syrah grape with another French grape, Peloursin, which is a red wine grape variety.
In today’s world the grape is still referred to as Durif in Europe, although production is very limited. In the New World Petite Sirah, particularly in the U.S. and Australia, continues to be very popular. In the 1960s Petit Sirah was the largest planted grape in California especially in the Napa Valley. It was gradually overtaken by Cabernet Sauvignon as its popularity skyrocketed. Today there are close to 10,000 acres of vines in California and 1,000 acres in Australia.
Petite Sirah is a red grape with a distinct flavor of its own. Although it is called Petite it is anything but. It offers big, bold flavors with hints of blackberries, spice and licorice. Petite Sirah wines are often intense, chewy, and full-bodied. When they are young, they provide large amounts of tannins (bitterness and astringency) and high levels of acidity. They are candidates for decanting, for sure. You may have to search to find a 100% Petite Sirah wine, but it is well worth the effort. Petite Sirah wines have the ability to age and improve for decades. In the blog on Switchback Ridge’s Petite Sirah, I reported on one of the top Petite Sirah wines produced in Napa Valley. That wine was a 2004 and had aged nicely with many years left before it will reach its flavor peak.
Personally, I am a big fan of Petite Sirah. I use it as one of our blending wines in our Adler’s Blend, our Glenwood Cellars Merlot and Glenwood Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. I believe it adds darkness to the color of our wines. It tames down the huge flavors of our Zinfandel in Adler’s Blend and adds to the finish of our Merlots and Cabernets. I also believe, because its high level of acidity and tannins, it helps our wines age.
2013 Three Clicks Petite Sirah – Napa Valley
Way back, on December 10, 2013, I reported on Bruce Devlin, winemaker of Three Clicks and our various red wines for our Glenwood Cellars and Tiedemann labels (see that post here). In the post I reported on the 2010 Three Clicks Petite Sirah. Today I am reporting on the 2013 Three Clicks Petite Sirah.
Bruce’s Notes on Vineyard Sources
“The 2013 Napa Valley Petite Sirah comes from three vineyards located in the Calistoga appellation. The first, a family-run vineyard call Citron, was planted with Petite Sirah in 2004. We work closely with the Citrons throughout the growing season to achieve the best quality fruit for Three Clicks. Our second Petite Sirah source comes from Gary Branham’s Obsidian vineyard. Gary is a well establish grower and good friend. He farms his vineyard immaculately, making sure that every vine and every cluster is in perfect condition. The third source is the famed Frediani Vineyard. The family has a long-standing reputation for excellent farming and location. They have farmed the same piece of land since the turn of the last century. The rocky soils in these vineyards, combined with the cool growing season and diligence in the vineyard, produced a Petite Sirah that is intensely colored and packed full of boysenberry and blueberry jam characteristics.”
“The small lots of Petite Sirah were hand-picked, destemmed, and lightly crushed into bins. They were punched down by hand three times daily during the peak of fermentation. Color extraction and tannin were closely monitored to achieve a robust full-bodied wine with balanced tannin. The wine was pressed off at dryness and aged in 30% new French Oak and 10% new American Oak barrels for a period of 15 months. We bottled the wine in January of 2015 with the goal of preserving the fresh fruit character of these vineyards. The wine was released in April of 2015 and bottled under screw cap. We feel this is the best closure for our wines and the wine should age and hold its fruit for a very long time.” Note: we reported on screw cap closures here.
“Our wine has aromas of blackberry jam, boysenberry, lavender, blueberries and black currants. There are undertones of graham crackers, brown spices and vanilla. This vintage is full-bodied with long voluptuous and velvety tannins. We strive to keep the aromatics fresh and lifted while keeping the body of the wine in balance. This wine finishes with a beautiful interplay of black cherries, violets, caramel and vanilla. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.”
Carl’s Tasting Notes
The 2013 Petite Sirah from Three Clicks was very dark in color. On the nose there were hints of black fruit, cedar and flowers. On the palate the flavor was bold with tastes of fruit, spice and vanilla. The finish was mouth-filling richness with layers of tannins, acidity and the finish lingered for a lengthy period of time. Going on six years old, this wine continues to taste excellent. It should age well for another 10 years.
A couple of other facts to consider about Petite Sirah wines are:
Serving: a slightly cooler serving temperature will produce more floral and mineral aromas on the nose along with bold fruit, which is a big characteristic of Petite Sirah.
Decanting: as I mentioned earlier, Petite Sirah has such high tannins, it is the perfect red wine to decant. With younger vintages you may want it to let it set for 2 to 4 hours (if you can wait).
Over the past years I have become a big fan of Petite Sirah and highly recommend that you cellar some Petite Sirah and taste it often.
Autumn Wine Dinner
I am excited to announce that at our November Wine & Dinner Club event on Tuesday, November 19, 2019, I am teaming up with Sam Beck Jr. CSW, CSS District Manager of Fine Wine of RNDC Indiana (Republic National Distributing Company). Sam has earned his CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) designation from the Society of Wine Educators. Sam and I will be selecting and presenting the evening’s wines. We will have the menu and wine pairings done soon, and tickets should also be available to purchase very soon.
As always I appreciate your support of our wine blog and encourage you to share it with family and friends. If you are reading this blog for the first time please consider subscribing while you are on the website. This way you’ll get our reviews and articles in your email. If you care to share your comments on this blog posting or other topics please do so in the comments section below.
Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- November 7 – International Merlot Day
- November 14 – International Tempranillo Day
- November 20 – International Zinfandel Day
- December 4 – Cabernet Franc Day
- December 20 – National Sangria Day
- December 31 – National Champagne Day