Lovely Wine Blogging Wednesday, you are everything I ever wanted homework to be: only slightly challenging, involving some field research and ultimately delicious. Why did I pick The Bell Jar for my senior research paper, and not Petite Sirah? Thanks to host Sonadora at Wannabe Wino for a great idea for this month’s tasting, and to Lenn Thompson at Lenndevours for inventing this virtual tasting that brings the wine blogosphere together every month.
I found this Peirano Estate Vineyards “Heritage Collection” Petite Sirah 2005 at Grapevine Market, where it was one of a 6 bottle discounted case I bought, so I got it for $12.59. Tasted with carnitas on brown rice with sides of acorn squash mashed with gorgonzola and cornbread baked in a poblano cup.
Inky maroon in color. On the nose, mint is very strong, but not as strong as the waves of blueberry jam pouring off of it. There’s some coffee there at the end too, but really this is all about the minty blueberry madness. The palate presents juicy, sweet blackberry fruit, roundly passive tannins and a dark chocolate finish of medium length. This is a fairly rich wine, not flabby but certainly chubby. But hell, I’m not one to be snotty about a wine that carries a few extra pounds; I liked this one.
With the carnitas, which I thought would be a nice pairing if the wine was pretty tannic, this Petite Sirah was so-so. I screwed myself by squeezing some fresh lime over the meat, and frankly the wine didn’t have the acid to handle it. The gorgonzola-mashed squash was a nice pairing, as there was relatively little cheese and the sweetness of the squash synergized (to repurpose a BS business word) with the ripeness on the wine. The cornbread was from a mix, so it was sweeter too, and it plus the muted fire of the poblano also really went well with the wine. It stood up to the chile better than it stood up to the lime, that’s for sure.
Peirano Estate is an interesting mix of old and young: their estate of 300 acres of Lodi vines has been in the family since 1895, but Lance Randolph (his mother was a Peirano prior to marriage) only started bottling wine in 1992. The family’s Zinfandel vines are over 100 years old. I can’t tell how long ago they planted their Petite Sirah, but it is estate grown. Their website has a strong 90s-era feel, with little backstory about Lance, who is both owner and winemaker. For this wine, he uses a rotary fermentation, to maximize extraction. I didn’t know you needed help extracting PS, but there you go. That plus twelve months of French oak, and Bob’s your uncle. Oh, and the grapes are harvested by hand, which arguably makes for much better wine: less beating up of the grapes before it gets to the press, and all that. Peirano is pretty well known for their blend “The Other,” usually a combo of Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Cab. Reviewed here and on Wine Library TV, in a very early episode.
As you may remember from my treatise on Petite Sirah when I reviewed the Rosenblum, the grape tends to be less fruity and more tannic, overall. Also called Durif, Petite Sirah is “petite” in its berry size: the grapes are small and the skins are thick, resulting in a higher skin-to-juice ratio than you get on other wines, and thus more tannin and color. I mentioned in that post that hotter climates do well with PS, and Lodi certainly fits the bill. This is a real crowd-pleasing, reasonably priced Petite Sirah, one with which to introduce friends painlessly to the variety.