Event,Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Variety,Wine,Wine tasting,Wine Writer,Winery

Petite Tasting ~ With the Big Boys

When I ask the members of PS I Love You for anything… I mean anything (including Petite Sirah Shoes, explanation coming in the near future)… they respond in huge ways. In such a huge way, actually, that the tasting I wanted to do in one sitting needed to be broken up into two parts. In my right mind, I couldn’t open up all 30 bottles in one night, for only a few people to taste, and then throw down the drain.

This is Part 2


Sue Straight of Wine-Wench.com and I talked about getting her caught up in what the members of PS I Love You are currently doing with their Petites, so I put the word out to members that we were going to be tastings Petites. Each of us would be using the tasting for writing purposes, and could they each send a bottle to me, if they’d like to be included.

Now I know what it’s like when I have a call for samples for different long-standing wine writing relationships, and my new ones, too. Always I hear back a big, “Wow!”

Now, I have been on the receiving end of that “Wow!” ~ And it is a big “Wow.”

It’s a Petite group (in size, only, like the grape), but everything is done in a huge way (the way the variety delivers).


I have a favorite hangout… Chinois Asian Bistro… where I love to taste wines. They allow it, because whatever we’re tasting, so does the owner and Master Sommelier Chang Liow.

In fact, for this tasting, after two rounds of Petite Sirah, Chang has a completely new and appreciative perspective for Petite Sirah. (Oh, yeah!) Sondra Barrett is also now a convert. She had never focused on PS, until we did our tastings. She’s become a lover, realizing that the flavors are rich and expressive, both on her palate and in her microscopic images. Here’s Sondra Barret’s posting for her first round images on SondraBarret.com. This accompanying image is of the Crusher by Don & Sons. Many, many more of these artful images are found on Sondra’s Website. This image is my all time favorite one.


We first tasted a Petite Sirah that was accidentally left behind for the first tasting. It got swapped with Parducci’s True Grit ($30.00). Both have fared really well, by being accidentally singled out.

  1. 2007 NOVELLA Fine Wines, Paso Robles ~ $7.00
    Nose and flavors of blueberries and cherries. This wine was so smooth that we forgot it was a Petite Sirah. Everyone (Jose Diaz, Sue Straight, Chang Liow, Sondra Barrett, and I all agreed that this is a Petite that is highly recommended for the $7.00 price tag… Not a typo… $7.00. Yes, it wasn’t tasted blind, so it’s not tasted as fairly as the others; but, we all still agreed that, “How can you lose with this one?”

Next… PART TWO ~ Petite Sirahs from $21.00 – $60.00 ~ The recommendations are from the group. I feel it’s best for me to not singularly rate these wines; however, I very much agree with the group’s findings. The descriptions are my own.

And, there wasn’t a dog in the group, something upon which we all agreed.

  1. 2008 ARTEZIN, Mendocino County ~ $25.00
    • Requested another bottle, as this one was corked. It happens and is no fault of the winemaking process. I’ll be writing about Artezin at another time, and coming back to this blog to add my comments under this one.
    • It just arrived this morning, so it’s not tasted blind as the others were.
    • Big black ink filled my glass, and luscious aromas of blackberries and plums, with a hint of chocolate and a bit of tobacco on the nose… Black and blueberries, smoked almonds, and a hint of licorice on my palate. This big bruiser has lots of flavor for a Petite, regardless of the oxymoron I’ve just written. It will take a big cut of beef to satisfy this one for right now for a food and wine pairing, and holds the potential for successful cellaring for the next 20 years. Very, very highly recommended.
  2. 2007 CLAYHOUSE Estate, Paso Robles ~ $25.00
    • Cherry bomb ~ Rich, dense black fruit. It was very yummy. Tasting it in a blind tasting, I wrote, “Could this be another Paso Robles?” Yes, it was. Paso Robles Petite Sirahs have the distinction of delivering Petites with yummy flavors that trick your palate into thinking there’s a sweetness about them, even thought they’re fermented bone dry. What I’ve learned at tastings, when I have someone who’s never tasted a Petite before, is to have that neophyte taste a Petite from either Paso Robles or Lodi, and I’ve got an instant fan. After that, these tasters can go anywhere else for anything else in the PS department. I’ve never had anyone make a face of displeasure or say, “Yuck!” This Clayhouse wine delivered with a very highly recommended score.
  3. 2007 CLAYHOUSE Estate, Show Pony, Paso Robles ~ $40.00
    • Again, dense, rich, and an extra spiciness that we all loved. We all got a big “Yum” from the black fruit. The Wine Wench called this one “sassy.” I liked that description a lot, and felt we had found a pair of velvet gloves in the Clayhouse wines. This is one of the Petites that got the highest of high scored. Very, very highly recommended.
  4. 2008 EOS Reserve, Paso Robles ~ $25.00
    • Black and blue berries, a touch of green olives, and one that makes you glad you came to the party. This one was the party animal… Inspired by the Wine Wench telling us that she equates wines with people, I found this one to be like what I’d expect a balanced Jim Belushi to be like, wild and crazy, but managed really well. This very well structured wine is very highly recommended by the group.
  5. 2005 EOS Cupa Grandis Grand Reserve, Paso Robles ~ $60.00
    • Another Paso Robles Petite, this one was rich and wild… Like Paris Hilton wild, where it was so good that everything it did to our palates was more than okay. EOS wines are very easy to like. Heck, EOS was the goddess of dawn, who opened the gates of Heaven each morning for the Sun’s chariot. Aphrodite punished her to be always in love. In my opinion, that’s not a punishment; it’s a pleasure, and so was this wine. It had wonderful flavors, it was beautifully balanced (something that our Paris is also trying hard to achieve), and it had a great finish. Very, very highly recommended.
  6. 2007 FIELD STONE, Staten Family Reserve, Alexander Valley ~ $35.00
    • I haven’t tasted a Petite Sirah from Field Stone for a while. Winemaker Patrick Murray has been working with Reverend John Staten’s 100-year old vineyard for many years now, and he’s come up with something very magical that the whole Staten family can be very pleased with… A Petite Sirah that’s like a Samba, very sexy fruit, dressed in a black velvet gown with very muscular legs to pull off the entire routine without a flaw. We all agreed that another 20 or 30 years with this one, and it would only be more precise, but still very accomplished at this time.  Very highly recommended.
  7. 2007 HARNEY LANE, Lodi ~ $24.00
    • A new kid on the block for me, because this is a relatively new member of PSILY, and I’ve never tasted what they’re doing with their family’s Lodi fruit. I couldn’t have been more pleased, and this was the point that I realized, I really do love Petite Sirah… more than I realized. This one was a lighter version, and my palate welcomed the luscious fruit. More blueberry and strawberry than the others. It reminded me of cotton candy (and who doesn’t love cotton candy?). It was fanciful and lively, the finish didn’t finish like candy, but left soft, pleasing notes that we all enjoyed. Very highly recommended.
  8. 2006 LANGTRY Estate, Guenoc Valley ~ $40.00
    • One of my old favorite members, one of the wineries that was included in my winery cat story in 1995… A winery where I share a lot of personal history… Did you know, there’s only one winery in Guenoc Valley, and it’s Langtry Winery? (Good trivia question for you…) This wine had a nose of complex depth, flavors that were black fruit and very tasty. The rich, brooding fruit with notes of smoked beef delighted us all. Very, very highly recommended.
  9. 2007 TRES SABORES, Napa Valley ~ $35.00
    • This Petite was an Audrey Hepburn ~ Breakfast at Tiffany’s wine. That all makes sense to me, given that the winemaker is Julie Johnson. A simply beautiful Petite Sirah, I loved the rich, chocolate nose, the tobacco and leather blending with blueberry and blackberry flavors,and the refined finish. It was a waltz of a wine directed by Julie. Very highly recommended
  10. 2007 TWISTED OAK, Calaveras County ~ $24.00
    • I always love getting Twisted with Jeff Stai. This is definitely the rock n’roll version of Petite Sirah, with the dip at the end that my favorite dance partner (during the rock n’roll heyday) always delivered with me. Jeff’s Petite danced it out in a Ginger Rodgers way… How she could dance it out, and then slide through the finish. This petite was rich and dense, filled with intricate flavors and promise, which delivered in a very smooth and lovely exit on the finish. Very, very highly recommended.
  11. 2007 LAVA CAP Reserve, El Dorado ~ $30.00
    • This is also one that I was tasting for the first time. One would think that I could taste all the members’ wines at Dark & Delicious, but I’m lucky if I get to even just say, “Hello!” to each one. They’re all there. They’re all open and such a temptation, but I’m constantly expediting. Meanwhile, I’ve always wondered about this one, because I knew David Jones, the founder, before he passed away. The man was an accomplished geologist… he knew his soils as a scientist. I knew as a morphed winemaker his soils would be very important to the flavors of his wines, terroir being what it is. This one is a Thomas Jefferson wine, because one sip and I thought, “Where’s my quill?” The black ink coming from this wine was awe inspiring. It reminded me more of a Pinot Noir, because it was filled with delicate cherry and plum flavors, and it had a powerfully lovely finish. Very highly recommended.
  12. 2005 METTLER, Lodi ~ $25.00
    • This Mettler family (there are other branches in Lodi) has supported PS I Love You since the day we began. Larry Mettler was on our board from the beginning for the time allotted for members. He took a year off and then returned. He started as a grower member, only. Then I watched his brand be born, and now it’s in a lovely bloom. I knew with the nose tasting blind that this was either a Paso or Lodi wine (and I also learned if I’m questioning Paso, then it’s a Lodi… Got that one, now). It was a jammy fun-house kind of wine. We were all delighted and wanted more from its rich, black fruit, well balanced, great finish. Very, very highly recommended
  13. 2007 J. Rickards Vineyards & Winery~ $24.00
    • J. Rickards ~ Our newest member of PSILY, and an awareness of us as result of this tasting ~ We were all very interested in seeing what this Petite had to offer. It did really well. This one has strawberries and cherries on the nose with lively blackberry on the palate, which all translated into being very easy to like for me. It’s well balanced and has really beautiful fruit. Very highly recommended.
  14. 2008 STANTON Vineyards, St. Helena, Napa Valley ~ $45.00
    • Doug Stanton has proved to me a great member of our group, but I had yet to taste his Petite. This one was so complex with things going on, like being able to change the course of societal history, that we called it the hippie of the group. It had black currant, ripe green olives, sweet black jam, a touch of smoke and Mexican spices… You can see how this one totally captured us and our imaginations. Very, very highly recommended.

What a delightful experience this was. I may need a once-a-year catch-up, so I can get to taste all of the Petite Sirahs produced by the members. With Dark & Delicious coming up on February 11, most of these wines will be poured, including the follow new member wines, which I wish I could get to… But, I’m where the buck stops on that night, so I can’t enjoy the food and wine… I just enjoy the view.

New brands pouring for the first time as D&D 2011.

  1. Brown Estate
  2. Diamond Ridge
  3. Don & Sons
  4. Ehrenberg Cellars
  5. John Robert Eppler Wines
  6. Nottingham Cellars
  7. Page Mill Winery
  8. Tercero Wines
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4 Responses to “Petite Tasting ~ With the Big Boys”

  1. Sondra says:

    Synchronicity? This weekend I finished photographing this 2nd round of the absolutely delicious petites. Should get more pix up later this week. Since I shoot in film the process is a lot longer than digital. But they were beautiful. I was remembering the first petite I shot a few decades ago; the forms were tiny. I thought that’s why it was called petite. I think they should be called big hoorah.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    I’ll drink to that, Sondra.

    I just got the bottle replacement for Artezin this morning. Talk about breakfast of champions. It’s sitting right here on my desk, and now it’s time for some real granola…

  3. Loweeel says:

    I was sent the link to the PS shoes by either google or a friend, and I showed them to my girlfriend, who liked the wines WAY better than the shoes!

  4. Jo Diaz says:

    I love the shoes, Loweeel. They smell like grapes!

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