Petite Sirah,Viticulture,Wine

All the Crazy Things Said About and Done With Petite Sirah ~ Episode 1

It reminds me of a Dr. Seuss story…

Oh, the wonderful things that Mr. Writer can do… Mr. Writer can Moo, can you?

It’s also Ms. Writer, the clownish things are endless, and I’m along for the ride.

I’m going to continue to rag on this phenomena with one writer after another, pseudo writing about a variety with inferences that are out of this world, instead of hard core research.


A simple search on Petite Sirah has the Petite Sirah Website (PS I Love You) showing up on the first page of a Google Search. How much more simple could it be?

So, I’m going to find all the wrong things, so we can have a good laugh, then get back to focusing on the right ones. I love to laugh, do you, too?

The Columbus dispatch (February 25, 2010): Petite sirah sounds innocent, but it’s far from a pushover. It’s massive on the tongue, and it can stand up to serious grilled red meats. [ALL TRUE]

“I love this varietal,” said an industry insider. “It has very mysterious origins, and it’s got cult like status.”  [SOMEWHAT TRUE: Mysterious has been proven with DNA by Dr. Carole Meredith. (The author coulda shoulda steered this one in a better direction… Like a simple Google Search, or Wikipedia even.) Cult? You betcha!]

“Petite sirah is thought to be derived from the durif grape, and they’re sometimes indistinguishable. Durif is a red-wine grape that’s native to France and believed to have come about when a syrah vine accidentally crossed with some other, unknown vine.” [OY VEY]

A wine blogger:

D is for Durif ~ In the late 1990s DNA profiling determined that Petite Sirah in California was a field blend of Peloursin, some actual Syrah and mainly Durif, which is a crossing of Peloursin and Syrah. [DNA evidence shows that Petite Sirah is a cross between Syrah and Peloursin… no field blend, just the crossing. While a field blend might contain various varieties, DNA is very scientifically specific to the grape variety being tested.]

This one kills me, it’s such a crock:

Petite Sirah – The English Form Of Petite Syrah – Who’s come up with this one?

It is written: “Although the grape was originally developed in France in the late 1800’s by crossing several varieties of grapes, mainly the Syrah (http://www.wineaccess.com/wine/grape/Syrah/Shiraz) and Peloursin grape, it is no longer cultivated in France. The name ‘petite’ can refer to either the very small berries that grow on the vines or the small yield that comes from harvesting the grapes.”

Not from “several” and it’s a huge yielding cultivar, unless managed. Whomever originally wrote this, and good luck tracking down the ghost writer, didn’t do his/her homework.

From: Bimetal Tempsensor – Wine Tasting Tips & Wine Varietal Explanations.

“Petite Syrah – Petite Syrahs are red wines with firm, robust tannic tastes, often with peppery flavors. Petite Syrahs may complement meals with rich meats.”

This one I found on April 5, 2010. I commented:

Here’s another tip… When talking (or writing) about Petite Sirah;

Always change the “y” to “i” and just say, “yes,” because you’ve written it correctly.

There’s a lot of confusion out there, so I’m just trying to help everyone get it right.

TTB doesn’t allow for Petite Sirah with a “y” anymore, because it’s become a messy mess… Thanks for correcting. You can remove my comment, once you’ve edited, if indeed you edit this faux pas.

I just checked. The entire website’s been taken down. I’m sorry guys, I was only wanting and edit.

Here’s a classic from Wine World. I found myself asking, “What the heck?”

Petite Sirah: Produces dark red wine rich in tannins. It is thought that the name originated as a result of confusion in labeling with the Syrah grape.

This one is filled with imaginative information:

“…the grape originated as an accidental cross of Syrah pollen germinating a Peloursin grape plant. [FACT: Francois Durif crossed Syrah and Peloursin to find a grape that wouldn’t be susceptible to powdery mildew. Unfortunately, PS is susceptible to bunch rot, another nasty problem for wine grapes; although, powdery mildew is not a problem.]

“Sometimes called Pinot de Romans, and Pinot de L’Hermitage. Two French Partners brought cuttings of the Durif to the Napa Valley in the early 50’s, they planted a small vinyard of the grape, and when it was harvested made a deep red wine from them. When the wine was ready to drink, the partners got together and open the first bottle, Francois said to Pierre after the first sip, “why this is a Petite Syrah” (meaning, a little Syrah in French). Other people tasted the wine and asked what it was, and were told Petite Syrah. Somewhere along the line the Syrah part was misspelled and came out petite Sirah, and it has stuck for all these years.” [FAIRYTALE]

REALITY: 1880 – Dr. Francois Durif, a grape nurseryman working in southern France, released a new variety that he named after himself. It grew from a seed he extracted from fruit of the old French variety Peloursin. Dr. Durif didn’t know the pollen source at the time, but we now know that it was Syrah. The combination of Peloursin and Syrah resulted in fruit with saturated color and very dense fruit clusters.

1884 – Durif was introduced into California. Some growers called it Petite Sirah, which was a name commonly used for Durif in some parts of France.

This is the one that drives me the most crazy. It makes sense that it wasn’t on a wine site, at least. I’ve found this one on many a wine site… And, denigrating it? Why don’t you just stab me in the heart?!

On the Health & Nutrition from Family Thrift Center site: “Produced almost exclusively in California in limited quantities, this distant cousin of true Syrah produces hearty, firmly structured wines that rarely achieve the polish and elegance of most other noble red varietals.”

…. A distant cousin of Syrah… (?)

It’s NOT a cousin, distant or even close. It’s the offspring… the Son of Syrah

I wish this was once-and-for-all…. Syrah + Peloursin = Petite Sirah

With this one, at least the author admits that she doesn’t know about Petite Sirah; however, her statements put us back at least 10 years to where no one knew much about PS. She talks about tracking it back to only 2003… Did she Google search it, I can’t help but ask myself. As I said above, PSILY’s info is on the first page of any Google Search. Also, François Durif’s name ONLY HAS ONE “F”.

It seems Petite Sirah is a new variety and its origins can only be traced back to California in 2003. It’s thought by some to be a version of the French grape Duriff. Obviously I wouldn’t know either way. It’s a red wine in a beautifully shaped bottle and it’s a 2007 so I’m all for it.

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