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Monday, July 16, 2012

Petite Sirah

I have a pet peeve about a particular grape - Petite Sirah.  It’s nothing against the grape; in fact I like wines made from Petite Sirah.  The issue I have is that since “Sirah” and “Syrah” sound the same, most people think they are the same.  And the result is a mistake about the grape’s identity and a mistake in thinking that wines made from Petite Sirah are just a “smaller” version of Syrah based wines.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Stag’s Leap Petite Sirah (Napa)

Yes, Syrah is believed to be a parent grape of Petite Sirah.  But Petite Sirah is known as Durif, and if we call it Durif, it makes it easier to remember that it is in fact not Syrah.  So what makes it petite?  It’s certainly not a petite wine - it’s very dark purple in color with a round feel, lots of fruit and spice, and plenty of tannin.  It’s petite because the grapes of Durif are quite small, making for a higher ratio of skin to juice, which makes a bigger wine.  So the grape is petite, not the wine.

Old Parcel Petit Sirah (Lodi)

The richness and characteristics and texture of Petite Sirah make it an ideal pairing for bigger dishes from the grill and stews, so it’s a good pick all year round.  It has great aging capability and makes a good blending grape as well as standing alone.  And when tasting a Petite Sirah, it’s worth noting just how different it is from Syrah.

Jam Cellars Petite Sirah/Petit Verdot blend (California)

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