Creative genius.. Laura Ness and her Pet Rocks…
I love the gift of “titles.” Some people just think in originals, then create them. It’s an interesting side of the fence to be on, and Laura Ness is in that field, grazing.
So, after the PS Symposium, Laura and I did a Q&A, and somewhere in that process, and with her going off to the 33rd Annual Mendocino County Fair Wine Competition as a wine judge, Laura became inspired with another story that she was willing to share on this blog. I read it, and realized what a gift she gave to us.
I saw PS I Love You members being mentioned, and I always want to shout out their names as being the best of the best.
She clearly has a great story. What is to follow is in the same vein as what I’ve heard from so many other wine judges for competitions. I love the collective reasonings. Perhaps that’s why we’re called PS I Love You. We admittedly know and love our passions.
~ Pet Rocks ~
Observations from the 2009 Mendocino Wine Competition
By Laura Ness (August 12, 2009)
Pet has been very much on my mind since attending the 7th Annual Petite Sirah Symposium last week in Livermore at Concannon Vineyard. Frankly, I was underwhelmed with most of the Mendocino showings there, except for the Parducci offering, which was quite a good example of Pet that everyone could get to know and maybe love. But who knew that a flight of Pet at the 2009 Mendocino Wine Competition, held on Friday, August 7, would blow all the judges away, even those who still think of this area as good for only Alsatian varieties and Pinot and that’s it? Well, move over, long-held opinions, and embrace what has always been here under our very noses.
Petite Sirah has been around in California for about as long as Italians have been planting field blends here: this backbone blender is still the core of many lesser wines, yet deserves a chance to choreograph its own dance. This flight of Petite was a delightful performance: of 9 wines, 5 received Gold (2006 Eaglepoint Ranch, 2006 Martella Heart Arrow, 2006 Mendocino Wine Company-Parducci Cellars), of which two were true Double Golds (2004 Barra, 2006 McNab Ridge). True Double Golds are when all the judges deliver Gold as their initial score without any arm-twisting. Silvers went to 2006 “True Grit” from Mendocino Wine Company, and 2006 Navarro offerings. Bronzes went to Frey and Jaxon Keys. Even the Bronzes here were better than the Silvers in the Cabernet category!
There was universal delight and acclaim from the entire judging panel. Usually, three out of five judges might be doing cartwheels over the quality of a particular flight. It’s rare that the entire table is giddy with the delirious delight of mutual discovery. It’s like we all came from different planets and suddenly discovered we could all speak Petite. OMG! You like this, too? Are you swooning under this Full of Blueberry Moon like I am?
Petite Sirah became the talk of the panel to the talk of the Sweeps to the talk of the after party. It was better than being at the Pinot Love-ins of the early part of the decade. The Pinot pretenders felt they were entitled to the awards because they spent more money on barrels, winemakers, consultants, etc. Petite gets it honest. It doesn’t need adulation or treatment with kid gloves. It smiles, like an old Italian farmer in the field, as his pitchfork finds a sweet spot somewhere in your $49 Pinot-filled abdomen. (it’s gone down a buck in the last week)
The robust, delightfully intense, white peppery and chile-spicy, elegant and well-crafted 2006 McNab Ridge Pet ($18 and only 14.5%), tied with a lovely gem of a biodynamic 2007 Grenache from Mendocino Farms for the Red Sweeps. It was fitting that three of the Pets here were all from the Parducci family, including “True Grit,” a screwtop edition that seeks to introduce the granular and gritty side of Petite to the wine drinking underserved. Meanwhile, Rich Parducci deserves a big thumbs up for carrying on the family tradition with this stunning McNab Pet. His 2006 Cononiah Zin is also kicking ass in competitions, with a Gold in Mendo and a special recognition and 4-star Gold award at the 2009 Orange County Fair.
The fact that a Petite Sirah tied for Sweeps at this typically Pinot Noir-besotted competition, says a lot for where Pinot is going (down hill and all in the wrong direction, IMHO) and where Petite Sirah has always been: at the heart of it all. Pet rocks!