Continuing with yesterday, where I set the stage for this Petite Sirah tasting paired with Jazz music… For me, Alacia Van’s music seemed to match Petite Sirah pretty well… Jazzy, bluesy, not what one would traditionally be expecting in today’s world of new music… even by Jazz standards. But, that’s what it was… The jazz standards that her grandparents had shared with her, the same songs my grandparents had shared with me ~ long before the Beatles did PS I Love You.

Cleansing our palates for this day was the newest flavor of SanTasti, cucumber. Everyone loved it. If you’ve not tried any of the SanTasti products, I highly recommend them. Cucumber is now my favorite, because cucumber is so non-acidic, and leaves a palate really fresh.

Alacia Van’s songs and the writers Scores:

Steve Heimoff ~ I only matched 4 wines with songs before lunch started:

  • 2005 Diamond Ridge – I Feel So Smoochy
  • 2006 Vina Robles Jardine – La Vie En Rose (because the wine was so soft and feminine)
  • 2005 Quixote Petite Sirah, Napa Valley – PS I Love You (because it was classic Petite Sirah)
  • 2007 Artezin Garzini Ranch (Mendocino) – Fever (because there was a touch of leather)

Berger ~ Scored as “Exceptional” during the four cuts:

  • 2005 Quixote Petite Sirah, Napa Valley ($50)
  • 2005 Langtry Petite Sirah, Guenoc Valley, Serpentine Meadow ($40)
  • 2006 Twisted Oak Petite Sirah, Calaveras County ($24)
  • 2007 Artezin Petite Sirah, Mendocino County ($25)
  • 2008 Diamond Ridge Petite Sirah, Lake County ($18)
  • 2007 Miro Petite Sirah, Dry Creek Valley ($23)
  • 2005 Ursa Petite Sirah, Sierra Foothills ($22)
  • 2005 True Grit (Parducci) Petite Sirah, Mendocino County ($30)
  • 2006 EOS Petite Sirah, Paso Robles ($18)
  • 2007 Artezin Petite Sirah, Mendocino County, Garzini Ranch ($35)
  • 2005 Lava Cap Petite Sirah, Granite Hill, Reserve ($30)


  • “I Feel So Smoochie,” my choices were the
    • 2007 Twisted Oak from Calaveras,
    • and the 2007 Clayhouse from Paso.
  • “He’s Funny That Way,” a more pensive and soft sitting on the couch with lots of pillows jazz tune, cozies up to the 2006 Vina Robles Jardine from Paso.
  • We all grooved to “P.S. I Love You,” the tune that galvanized the tasting: my heartthrob fave was the 2007 Artezin Garzini Ranch (Mendocino).
  • I love Dan Berger: he insisted on pairing with “La Vie En Rose,” …
    • we were all pretty keen on the 2007 Line 39, a vivaciously flirty beauty from Lake County ($10!!),
    • as well as the 2007 Lava Cap, a spicy, smooth, sexy and lingerie-lingering temptress that does El Dorado proud.
  • Additional standouts were the
    • 2005 Quixote, Napa, brought by winemaker Matt Reid, which would be great paired with a Mozart piano concerto;
    • the 2007 Concannon “Conservancy,” a solid performance from Livermore Valley, which would cozy up to melodies mellow and soothing;
    • and the 2005 Diamond Ridge from Lake County (made by Clark Smith), which made me want to kick back on my deck with Bob Dylan’s “Tangled up in Blue” crackling through the speakers. This was an impressive concert of Petites. Not too many out of tune instruments in the entire batch.


  • As we all listened, some of us perplexed, Mr. Smith and Mr. Berger went about their research with all the joy of latter day Archimedes. Exclamations not unlike that of ‘Eureka!’ rang out between the two. Mr. Heimoff offered a Mona Lisa smile as he sat listening next to the computer speakers. At one point Jo Diaz burst into laughter at his expression, and never fully recovered!


  1. Twisted Oak ’08 Feminine, romantic Heart and Soul
  2. Miro ’07 Affable American Tune (Paul Simon)?
  3. Langtry ’05 Heavy metal Fever
  4. Vina Robles Austere The Music That Makes Me Dance
  5. Diamond Ridge Vineyards ’08 Salsa swing I Feel So Smoochie, Fever
  6. Concannon Livermore ’07 Pathos PS I Love You
  7. Line 39 ’07 Lyric, lean La Vie En Rose
  8. Ursa ’05 Spicy, elegant Foxy Lady (Jimi Hendrix)?
  9. Silkwood ’07 Macho soulful Fever
  10. Artezin ’07 Mendocino Sultry, complex PS I Love You, Nearness of You
  11. EOS Estate ‘06 Bright, exotic Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings?
  12. Parducci “True Grit” ’06 Rock and Roll Fever
  13. Mettler ’04 ‘80’s Funk I Wish You Love
  14. Clayhouse ’05 lyrical, Gershwin The Very Thought of You
  15. Pedroncelli ’06 soft pop rock Hole in the World Tonight (Eagles)?
  16. Quixote ‘05 Complex, austere Carmina Burana (Carl Orff)?
  17. Lava Cap ‘’05 sweet pop rock La Vie en Rose
  18. Artezin 07 Garzini Ranch epic Needs Opera
  19. Hess Collection Big, austere PS I Love You

Randall Johnson, winemaker for Hess’ Artezin wines, visited with us via Skype. He was originally going to be with us, until I had to reschedule from February to April. Randall joined us from Argentina, where he was busy at Hess’s Argentine companies, Bodega Colomé and Estancia Colomé, with their harvest. Because Randall couldn’t physically join us, Hess Collections winemaker Dave Guffy did. It was then that I discovered that Dave has his own small label, “Guffy Family Wines.” Dave proved to me what I’ve long known:  Petite Sirah is a winemaker’s wine. Show me a winemaker who’s on the edge, and I’ll show you someone who makes a few hundred or less cases of Petite Sirah for himself, his family, his friends, and a few close fans that fallow him with a passion. (This is another topic unto itself, boys and girls.)

Hess Collection | Artezin Wines, with Mary Lawler at the helm and her crew, pulled out all of the stops for this group on this day. Not only were appetizers prepared for us while we listened to the Scores from Alacia’s CD, but an exquisite, wine country lunch was also prepared by Hess’s Executive Chef Chad Hendrickson. Chad utilized local organically and sustainably-grown products, to create fresh seasonal recipes that paired with our food and wine luncheon. His special menu for us:

First Course

2007 Mount Veeder Chardonnay
Pan Seared dusted Fennel Halibut
Sausalito Watercress, Cara Cara Oranges, English Peas and Shaved Fennel
Chive and Wildflower Honey Vinaigrette

Second Course

All Petite Sirahs were enjoyed with this course
Oak Grilled Lamb T-Bone
Marinated Royal Trumpet Mushrooms, Fava Beans
Roasted Sweet Peppers
Truffled Spring Onion Relish

To Finish

All Petite Sirahs were continued to be enjoyed with this course
Bitter chocolate Terrine
Crème Fraîche Ice Cream with
Banana Caramel Sauce

Hess President Gary Bulger is pictured above standing in this group image to the far left. Gary joined us in our final moments to tell us how much he appreciated our visit. Are you kidding me? It was we who had to thank him for their extreme hospitality. This wasn’t an everyday occurrence; it was completely special in every way.

What did I enjoy most about this fascinating day?

All of it!