Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Petite Sirah - Day 1

Petite Sirah is a wine that is hard to come by on the east coast. Several retailers told me recently that they won't stock this because people don't know this type of wine and when they are looking for a "big" CA wine, they go straight to Cabernets. I suggested maybe doing a tasting of several so that this great varietal will get the recognition it deserves. Although the berries are "petite", the wines are not. I have previously posted the incredible Girard Petite Sirah and the Vina Robles Petite Sirah. With the help of some great PS I Love You members, I have had the opportunity to try some others with more in the cellar to taste. Last week while hanging out by the fireplace at the family ski house, I broke out the following CA Petite Sirahs to share with family and friends. These are great wines for grilled meats, beef stews, and chili.

Parducci 2007 - This family (Thornhill and Dolan) owned and operated winery from Mendocino County are not only striving to produce nice wines but is committed to sustainable wine growing practices. In fact, Parducci is the first carbon neutral winery in the US. The 2007 vintage was just bottled in November 2009, after being aged for 22 months in American Oak and in Redwood tanks. This ruby red Petite Sirah started with a relatively tight nose with some cherry and blackberry. The dark fruits followed through on the palate along with a small amount of pepper. It was a medium bodied wine with smooth tannins, but lacked the structure I was expecting. The acidity was low and the flavors on the mid palate and back end were short. Additionally, it had a slight bitter aftertaste. It was tasted again the next day and it was a little better. The overall consensus was fair. I have a second bottle that will be tried at a later date to compare and then post again. The 2007 Parducci Petite Sirah retails for $11.
This past weekend we opened the second bottle of the 2007 Parducci and it unfortunately followed suit with the first bottle. This is a pass.

Concannon Conservancy 2007 - The Concannon winery was started by James Concannon, an Irish immigrant, in 1883. Although the winery was sold to The Wine Group, Jim Concannon has been at the winery for more than 50 years now and his son John is now learning the business. Concannon Winery was also the first in the US to plant Petite Sirah grapes in 1961 and the first vintage was bottled in 1964. The Conservancy winegrowers place their land into a conservation trust that preserves it against development forever. The 2007 Conservancy petite Sirah is a blend of 97% Petite Sirah and 3% Petite Verdot. This inky colored full bodied wine started with rich aromas of cherries, pepper and some smokey oak. The intense flavors were more plums and blueberries along with some chocolate, black pepper and oak. It was aged in both French and American oak. The acidity was relatively high and the finish was long. However, the tannins were quite chewy. It too was just released in the fall, so hopefully the complexity of this wine will come together over time. The overall consensus was to put this away for at least 5 more years and then try it again. The 2007 Concannon Conservancy Petite Sirah retails for $15.

Glen Ellen 2007 - This recently released Petite Sirah is also produced by Concannon Vineyards in Livermore, although the grapes for this wine come from both the Central Coast region and the North Valley region of CA. This was the complete opposite of the Concannon Petite Sirah as it lacked the complexity and structure found in the Concannon. It was medium bodied with plum and black cherry aromas and flavors along with some tobacco and a hint of spices. The acidity was similar but the finish was lacking. The tannins were soft. In fact, it was more like drinking juice. The overall consensus was fair. I have a second bottle that will be tried at a later date. Any changes will be posted. The 2007 Glen Ellen Petite Sirah retails for $10.

I will be posting the Day 2 tastings soon. Lots of Petite Sirah postings to go. Check back soon.


  1. I enjoy petite sirah, though true you don't see a lot of them. Good to see I'm not the only one who thinks of wine to go with chili!

  2. David - Is is hard to get PS in MA also? I will actually be posting one hopefully today that I served with a "six pack" chili last week. The spices from the chili and the pepper from the wine actually complimented instead of competing. I also like a nice Spanish white with chili. I was just reading your blog "Just the Wine" with the food entries too. I now have lots of reading to do today. I will be adding this to the sidebar under "Blogs I Follow". Thanks for reading. Jason

  3. Jason, great to see you tasting and taking notes on Petite Sirahs!

    Slight correction, and it's an obvious assumption, because Jim Concannon is still at the winery... Jim Concannon had to sell the winery when his brother Joe met an untimely death many years ago. Jim, however, has stayed with the wienry for over 50 years as their ambassador. Jim's son John Concannon is next in line, and is already at the winery in a sales porsition, for the time being, learning the business from his dad - and my dear freind - Jim Concannon.

    The Wine Group, who consider themselves stewards of the Concannon property, now own Concannon, and are very genreous with the brands they own, including Concannon Vineyard.

    Looking foward to more Petite reviews! Jo Diaz (

  4. Jo, thanks for the corrction. I will certainly change this. Jason

  5. Thank you Jason for the Petite Syrah reviews. This is one of the wines I placed on my list for 2010. Only ever tasted two and that was a few years ago. Did my year in review at and noted that I am very pleased with the many new wines I discovered in 2009. When listing what I wish to try more of this coming year the Petite Syrah was at top of the list. Your reviews will be very helpful in my quest.