Petite Sirah, ‘Bastoni Vyd’, Joseph Swan
Not to be confused with syrah, petite sirah is an unrelated grape from southern France, also known as durif, although some of what has been called petite sirah in California may in fact be other grape varieties. In any event, it was one of the historic workhorse grapes, adding color, tannin and big flavors to blends. On its own it was often considered too rustic to be of the first order, although there are a number of notable examples of wines that far exceeded their birth rank, including the great wines of Ridge from Devils Hills in the York Creek Vineyard, or the original, ancient vines that the Foppiano’s farmed for decades near Healdsburg. I have always been intrigued by it but this is the first time I have made one – I am not sure why it took me so long!
This wine is as dark as our tannat, which is saying a lot! Deep, deep red. Although the nose is about black plum and, even though it was aged in neutral French oak barrels, a hint of wood. In the mouth its power is obvious but at the same time it exhibits balance and even a bit of elegance. Sort of like a middle linebacker doing ballet. It is a bit juicy but with a tannic edge and great acidity. Knowing what I do about how many petite sirahs tend to age, we plan to put several cases in the library!
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