Saturday, September 17, 2011

Petite In Name Only

Last week, I enjoyed not one, but two delicious Petite Sirahs. I love this grape. Contrary to common assumption, it isn't actually related to the grape Syrah (known in Australia as Shiraz) at all. Two completely different grapes, with just a somewhat similar name. Although they do both have big, lucious, peppery flavor profiles.

The first one I tried was The Crusher, by Don Sebastiani and Sons. I was intrigued when I first saw the label, because Don Sebastiani and Sons reliably produce good juice in my experience. It was also labelled as containing grapes specific to Clarksburg, CA, which is where Bogle sources the grapes for its outstanding Petite Sirah Port. But what finally sold me on this bottle was .... a customer. Yes, it's true, though I sell wine for a living, on occasion our roles reverse and a particularly enthusiastic customer actually sells ME a bottle. That was the case last Saturday, and I'm grateful that I took his advice.

The Crusher (2009, 13.5%) is a beautiful deep, bloody violet color in the glass. Black fruit dominates the bouquet with an edge of spicy oak. Soft, supple tannins coat the mouth lusciously with a lovely, seamless acidity dancing across the palate with graceful flavors of blackberry, cola, licorice, and oak. We paired it with a pepper-marinated steak and creamy mashed potatoes and drained the bottle in no time. Definitely put this one in your face. If you find it for a mere $12 like I did, you might want to follow my customer's example and buy several cases at once. This is a delicious all-purpose red.

Having successfully reminded myself and my husband how much we love Petite Sirah, we opened another one a few days later. The 2008 Maggio Petite Sirah (13%) comes out of Lodi, CA. Lodi produces some of my favorite Zinfandels - well-balanced, with velvety tannins, and a nicely spiced flavor profile. Their version of a Petite Sirah expressed itself similarly.

The Maggio Petite Sirah is a beautiful pomegranate crimson in the glass, with a fruity, spicy nose - raspberry, cherry, and black pepper. When sipped, a good acidic tang up front makes you salivate while the soft, satiny tannins fill your mouth with juicy flavors of raspberry, blackberry, and licorice, with a finish of spicy oak. Yum! A great deal for only $7, definitely worth putting in your face.

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