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Cabernet Sauvignon,Napa,Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Variety,Wine,Wine Making,Wine Writer,Winemaker,Winery

Is Petite Sirah, that Special Black Opal of the Wine World, a Winemaker’s Wine? Winemakers weigh in

Tres Sabores

Image of Tres Sabores via Snooth

Through my 10 year relationship with this heritage variety and PS I Love You, I’ve come to believe that Petite Sirah is a winemaker’s wine; otherwise, why would the 8o0+ winemakers who craft it even bother with it? Why wouldn’t they just be using it as a blending ingredient, as they did from the 1970s on, when the Napa boys (with Robert Mondavi and BV leading the pack) just started pulling it all out to plant Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot?

So, along comes my friend Julie Johnson of Tres Sabores, who Cced: me in a communication to a wine writer. Here’s what she wrote to validate how amazing Petite Sirah is for winemakers and the owners of wineries:

I only make 160 some cases so that may be the case with many wineries. Jo’s right about many of us keeping ps as that special black opal offered to winery guests and via wine clubs…..

The Black Opal… what a great analogy. Thanks, Julie!

My friend Steve Heimoff, in his annual State of the Grapes 2012 article in Wine Enthusiast wrote about Petite Sirah:

Petite Sirah. “Pettasera” (as the old-timers called it) had a pretty good run from 2005–2010, coming out of nowhere to gain traction. That’s slowed down a bit, as consumers have wondered just why they should buy it. It’s a good wine and, when well-made, distinctive and ageworthy. But Petite Sirah lacks a compelling rationale, a narrative. Stock up 4%.

I truly do believe that the compelling rationale and narrative is what I’ve been banging the drum about… It’s a winemaker’s wine. If a winemaker thinks that this wine is “the absolute bomb,” why isn’t that translating down yet?

To that end, I decided to E-Mail my Petite Sirah buddies, asking for their opinions. Here’s what I asked of them:

  • A statement about Petite Sirah: Why is this wine important to you personally; in other words, why bother to make Petite Sirah?

Two brand new members joined PS I Love You last week, Barra of Mendocino and Milagro Vineyard. To their credit, both jumped at the chance when I gave them the opportunity to weigh in last Friday. When John Rudolph (Milagro Vineyard) responded, he wrote, “I don’t know if this is what you are looking for but I gave it a shot. Thanks for the opportunity.”

My response to him is worth noting, because as I wrote this story, I became aware of something critical about Petite Sirah:

This is perfect! Each vintner has given me great and unique talking points. This is going to make going from one winemaker to the next a great reading experience, because – believe it or not – not one of you had repeated a passion, except that you all “get” Petite Sirah. There’s an overriding love for Petite, but not redundantly so.

I’ve found it very curious that there’s still no real benchmark for Petite Sirah; and then, along come varied answers, but no really benchmark responses.

Petite Sirah is so unique in so many ways.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you their answers; otherwise, this blog posting was headed toward 2,000 words, and that’s 1,000 more than anyone cares to read first thing in the morning. I will say this, Julie Johnson’s not alone in her thinking…

Wine writers, I don’t mind if you copy and paste any of their answers, if it helps with a story you’re writing. I know that I write about copyright laws on my blog, having seen entire stories and images of mine lifted in entirety, and put onto other sites. (It smarts, when I write, “My grandfather gave me my first camera,” have a picture of it, only to have some guy in Timbuktu place that on his blog as his history, not mine.)

This is a time when I don’t care if you use their quotes. It’s that important that the word gets out on Petite Sirah’s unique qualities. Quoting winemakers is a powerful tool for enriching your story, and sharing their thoughts is fine by me and them.

 

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3 Responses to “Is Petite Sirah, that Special Black Opal of the Wine World, a Winemaker’s Wine? Winemakers weigh in”

  1. I think one challenge for PS is that consumers can’t be sure what it is. Is it a 16% alcohol fruit bomb, almost like Port? An elegant, graceful claret-style? Dry or slightly sweet? So tannic, you have to age it, or gentle enough to drink now? In a way, these are the same issues Zinfandel has always faced. So when the winemakers come up with that “compelling narrative,” the question of style should be included.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Tomorrow’s answers address a lot of this. And, as you’ve stated, Steve, it’s one thing for them to know, and another for consumers to “get the message.” If the winemakers are wise, and I like to think the members of PSILY are, otherwise why bother to join a marketing group, they’ll take these answers and begin to use them for the good of all. Some of the answers are very provocative, while others are pretty creative… all of them make sense to me.

    Thanks for weighing in!

  3. […] Is Petite Sirah, that Special Black Opal of the Wine World, a Winemaker’s Wine? Winemakers wei… (wine-blog.org) […]

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