Do not be fooled by the name! Petite Sirah is anything but petite, and if you enjoy big, jammy red wines, this is the wine for you! A distant cousin of Syrah, Petite Sirah is a wine all its own. Petite Sirah is a California wine through and through, with bold flavors and an amazingingly rich mouthfeel - and in fact, the grape is grown almost exclusively in California. Also known as Durif, Petite Sirah is perfect to pair with rich red meats, like a steak or a California style barbecue. We will admit that this style of wine is not our usual go-to, but we were pleasantly surprised by two of the wines, and the third wine - well - let’s just say it was one of the lowest rated wines we have ever tasted. Wines reviewed in this episode: 2020 Bogle Family Vineyards Petite Sirah, 2020 Michael David Petite Petit, and 2019 Kaleidoscope Petite Sirah.
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Episode 82: WTF is Petite Sirah? 00:00
Hello! And welcome to The Wine Pair Podcast. I’m Joe, your sommelier of reasonably priced wine, and this is my wife and my wine pairing partner in crime, Carmela. And we are The Wine Pair!
Ok, a quick orientation for those of you who may be new to the podcast - in each episode we learn about, taste and give our brutally honest review of three wines that are reasonably priced - meaning under $20 each - and should be easy for you to find. And our podcast is made for people who want to learn more about wine, find new wines to enjoy, and just want someone to talk about wine in a way that normal people can understand. So, if that sounds like you, you are in the right place! And we are proud to say that we are officially recommended by the editors of Decanter Magazine who call us fun, irreverent, chatty, and entertaining.
Ok, Carmela, we are back with one of our world famous, often imitated but never duplicated, WTF or what the fuck episodes, and this week we are going to be talking about an often misunderstood and even less appreciated wine called Petite Sirah.
Why do you think Petite Sirah is so often confused or misunderstood? That’s right, it is often confused for the very different wine and wine grape Syrah.
First, note that the spelling for Sirah in Petite Sirah is different. Stand alone Syrah is spelled with a “y” while Petite Sirah is spelled with an “I.” What makes it even a little more confusing is that Syrah in Australia is called Shiraz and is spelled with an “I” as well. And even more confusing is that Petite Sirah is sometimes called Durif, which also has an “I” in it - but we’ll get to that in a minute because that is a whole other issue.
So, it’s not a huge mystery as to why these two wines are confused. But, to be clear, they are different wines and grapes. However, they are still cousins. Are you confused?
Let me try to explain quickly. And I got a lot of this information from a website called JJ Buckley, and you can find the link to the article in our show notes for this episode on our website.
Syrah is originally from the Rhône Valley in France, and we just talked about Syrah in our last episode because it is the “S” in GSM blends which are also known as Rhône-style blends, and is a cross between two grapes called Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. It is a small, dark-skinned grape, and it makes wines that are described as bold, full-bodied, deep red-purple with moderately high acidity and tannins.
Petite Sirah is actually a cross between the grapes Syrah and Peloursin, the latter of which is a rare French variety from the Rhône-Alpes region which borders Italy and Switzerland. Outside of the US the grape is often known as Durif and it is a small and dark, nearly black grape and again we will talk more about that later. Petite Sirah is high in both acidity and tannins, versus Syrah which is moderately high in each.
In terms of flavors, Syrah is often described as having a peppery, red plum, blueberry, and blackberry taste and smell, and with floral flavors and aromas, meanwhile Petite Sirah is often described as having tastes and aromas of black plum, smoky fruit, spices, dark chocolate, coffee, and caramel. I say carmel. Not caramel.
So, bottom line, don’t confuse these two wines. Ok?!? And we are going to spend the rest of the episode talking about Petite Sirah, and then we are going to taste and review three reasonably priced and relatively easy to find Petite Sirahs all from the great state of California . . .
But first . . . we have to do our shameless plug, right Carmela? First, we want to start by saying THANK YOU for listening to us and for supporting our show, and now would be a great time to subscribe to our podcast - as a free way to support us, and then you never have to miss a show! - and a huge thank you to all of you who have subscribed already.
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And, as we do every week, we’ll tell you someone we think you should tell about The Wine Pair Podcast, and this week when you hear the word “shorty” we want you to think about The Wine Pair Podcast, and immediately tell the person you are talking to that they need to listen to our podcast. Again, that word is Shorty - or some derivative of it related to small size. Like Petite. Get it?!?
ARTICLES and LINKS
Topic: WTF is Petite Sirah? 07:37
Alright, so let’s do a little edumacating on just what the fuck Petite Sirah is. And, if you haven’t been listening, it is not a little Syrah grape or wine. It is not the mini version of Syrah. In fact, Petite Sirah can be described as a stronger and bolder wine than Syrah.
As we mentioned before, Petite Sirah originally came from France, but today it is almost never grown there. In fact, it is almost exclusively grown in California - although there is a little grown in other hot climate areas like Australia, Mexico, Chile, South Africa, and Brazil.
Carmela, do you want to hear the story of Petite Sirah, and why it is popular in California? I got some of this information from a website called PS I love you which is a Petite Sirah Advocacy Organization. Get it, PS?!? So, if you are a Petite Sirah lover, you may want to check them out. I also got some great information from a website called The Wine Cellar Insider, and we have links in our show notes to these sources.
Now, remember that I mentioned that the grape is sometimes known as Durif? Well, that’s because it was invented in the 1880’s by a dude name Durif who was a botanist in Southern France. Soon after, the grape made its way to California in 1884 in Alameda, around San Jose. By 1900, it was a popular grape in California, especially in Napa, although some say the name of the grape may have been used for some other similar looking grapes at the same time as well.
By 1938, Petite Sirah kind of reached its peak in popularity, and the grape was very popular with home wine makers during prohibition. There were several reasons why - first, it has thick skins, and so it ships pretty easily. Second, it is relatively easy to grow and is pretty hardy, and can stand many different climates, including high heat, so there is little risk in trying to grow this wine from a production standpoint. Third, it creates bold wines with intense flavors, and so even home winemakers with limited skills could make flavorful wines. And fourth, because of its high tannin and acidity, it can be stored for a long time, which meant that people could make a whole bunch and store it and not be worried about being caught making wine.
However, by the 1960’s, production of Petite Sirah was cut nearly in half, and then went down by another half by the 1990s. I couldn’t find any great reasons why production was cut so much, but it was likely because other wines became more popular, particularly in California, like Cabernet and Merlot, and so winemakers just switched to more popular wine varietals that people were buying. And, a lot of the time, Petite Sirah was really considered more of a blending grape than a stand alone - and was often blended with Syrah, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon to give the wines color, tannin, and to tamp down on some of the jammy flavors that can come from wines made from those grapes that are in hot climates.
Petite Sirah has had a bit of a resurgence since then, and nearly 1,000 winemakers use the grape in some fashion today.
People who like powerful, dense, tannic wines that go well with red meat will probably really like Petite Sirah - although my bet is that the name throws them off. I don’t think our brains tend to conjure up images of things that are described as powerful, hardy, and dense when “petite” is used as an adjective. But, remember, the name Petite comes from the small size of the grape, not its flavor.
Petite Sirah makes a powerful, fruity, hardy, dense and very tannic wine which really pairs well with big, heavy, meaty dishes - think of things like grilled steak, and stews, and barbecue - things with heavier, smokier, meatier flavors. Not a fish wine!
So, I am really curious to try this wine. It is not generally the kind of wine I lean towards because we don’t usually like bigger and bolder wines, but then again, we do like a good Zinfandel, so we’ll see how this stacks up. This feels like a wine for lovers of big, California, punch you in the face wines.
So, on that note, I think it’s time to learn a little more about the specific wines we are drinking today.
ARTICLES and LINKS
Petite Sirah Wines We Chose for This Episode 14:48
As usual, all of the wines we have chosen for this episode are under $20, and all of them should be relatively easy to find because I bought them all at Total Wine - and one of the wines can be found all over the place, and another I saw at Costco and wine.com as well as Total Wine.
I also tried to find wines that were well rated, but I have to say that as I was putting the notes together for this show, I am beginning to doubt the ratings that I originally wrote down. There are some scattered ratings for these wines, and well, you can never be too sure about the accuracy of everything you read on the internet, so hopefully I got some ok wines, but we will see.
Open minded, right, Carmela?!?
The first wine we are going to try is definitely a wine you should be able to find all over the place. It is the Bogle Family Vineyards 2020 Petite Sirah. Now, I will be totally honest, but one of our lowest rated wines ever on this podcast came from Bogle. So, I am trying not to pre-bias. You may ask yourself, Carmela, why did I choose this wine?
Well, up to the 2019 vintage, Wine Enthusiast had consistently name this wine a Best Buy, and the 2019 got a 90 rating. Additionally, Wilfred Wong, who is the wine.com in-house reviewer, says that this has always been his favorite wine from the winery, but here, again, I am confused about the quality of the information. Wine.com lists this wine as a 92 rating from Wilfred Wong, however, on the same page, the review from Wilfred refers to the 2021 vintage. So, I am a little confused.
Bogle on their website calls this wine their “heritage” varietal, and Petite Sirah is evidently the first red wine that the Bogle grandfather planted in 1968. They also say that they age the wine for 12 months in American oak - and for our friends out there, American oak can be pretty strong, so I am expecting some wood and vanilla and tannin in this wine.
The second wine we are going to drink is called Michael David Petite Petit, and you’ll recognize a Michael David wine when you see it because they often use crazy circus-themed cartoons on their labels - sort of fun and outrageous. Their Cabernet Sauvignon that we reviewed about a year ago is called Freakshow.
This wine is not 100% Petite Sirah - in fact, they mix it with 15% Petit Verdot. And, you should be able to find this wine all over the place, and I have seen it in Costco recently as well as on wine.com in addition to Total Wine where I bought it.
I am also nervous about this wine based on the description from the winery - Petite Petit is a large, weighty, knock-your-socks-off type of wine! Again, I will be open-minded, but these are generally not the types of wines we like, and I am expecting a very typical big fat California red wine. It has gotten good reviews, though, and Wine Enthusiast gave this wine a 92 rating which is very high. They also say that it won’t be at its best until 2028, so we may just be way early on drinking this wine. It is rare to find a wine under $20 that needs to be cellared for 8-10 years!
This may be a punch you in the face wine! And, it is 15% alcohol which is super high.
The last wine we are going to try is the 2020 Kaleidoscope Petite Sirah. Now, this wine I chose because I saw some information online that it got a 90 rating from Wine Enthusiast. But now I am not so sure that is true. I will also admit that I wanted to get the wine anyway because the label was so cool, so I am thinking that I was hypmotized by the bottle and made to think it had a high rating.
In fact, there is a website where I saw that it was reviewed by Wine Enthusiast with a 90 rating and was given a Best Buy - and I have the link to the website in our show notes - but I cannot find any other reference to that rating. So I am stumped.
This wine is made by the Mondavi Family winery, so I am guessing that you can find it pretty easily in a lot of places, too, and, while I am being open minded, I am really not expecting much from the wine based on that.
So, this is a total shot in the dark on this wine. But it is the most expensive wine of the bunch at $14.99, and we promise to be open-minded.
This is either going to be the best wine tasting ever, or it is going to be a train-wreck. Either way, you need to hang on to find out! We’ll take a quick break and be right back. And, if you have these wines or similar wines, drink along with us!
ARTICLES and LINKS
Petite Sirah Wine Pairing Tasting and Reviews 23:10
Wine: Bogle Family Vineyards Petite Sirah (Click here to learn more about this wine one wine.com. Affiliate link.)
Retailer: Total Wine
Grapes: Petite Sirah
What we tasted and smelled in this Petite Sirah:
- On the nose: Dark plum, rose, flowers, tar, smoke, dark fruit, dark cherry, chocolate cherry cordial
- In the mouth: Jammy, fruit forward, clean, smooth, could be drunk on its own without food, blackberry jam, smoke, cedar, charcoal fire, black cherry jam. Great for people who love big wines. Bold but not terribly complex.
Food to pair with this Petite Sirah: Burgers, grilled lamb chops, grilled red meat, barbecue, tri-tip sandwich, baby back ribs, smoked meats
As a reminder on our rating scale, we rate on a scale of 1-10, where 7 and above means that we would buy it, and 4 and below means that we are likely to pour it down the sink, and a 5 or 6 means we are likely to drink it and finish it, but we are probably not going to buy it.
Bogle Family Vineyards Petite Sirah Wine Rating:
- Joe: 6/10 (but would buy for a party)
- Carmela: 6/10
Wine: Michael David Petite Petit (Click here to learn more about this wine on wine.com. Affiliate link.)
Region: California, Lodi
Retailer: Total Wine (saw at Costco and wine.com)
Grapes: 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot
Professional Rating: WE 92
What we tasted and smelled in this Petite Sirah:
- On the nose: Dirt, just lit fire, grapey, jammy, blueberry jam, blackberry jam, sweet and rich, blueberry pie, spice, cinnamon, paprika
- In the mouth: Big wine, fat mouth feel, lingers in the mouth, sweet after taste, blackberry pie, blueberry pie, syrupy, still a little hot, feels like you can light your breath, a heater, juicy
Food to pair with this Petite Sirah: Big steak, rare steak, steak and potatoes, rich stew
Michael David Petite Petit Wine Rating:
- Joe: 7/10
- Carmela: 6/10 (but would give it an 8 for the label alone - a great gift bottle)
Wine: Kaleidoscope Petite Sirah
Retailer: Total Wine
Grapes: Petite Sirah
Professional Rating: WE 90 Best Buy (but not absolutely sure this rating is correct)
What we tasted and smelled in this Petite Sirah:
- On the nose: Smoke, sour, flowery, dirt, vegetable, grapey, pepper, sour orange, sour blood orange
- In the mouth: Sour, orange peel, weird. Not good. Hard to drink. Almost vinegar.
Food to pair with this Petite Sirah: Nothing. Would not pair with anything.
Kaleidoscope Petite Sirah Wine Rating:
- Joe: 3/10
- Carmela: 4/10
Which one of these are you finishing tonight?
- Carmela: Bogle Family Vineyards Petite Sirah
- Joe: Michael David Petite Petit
Taste profiles expected from Petite Sirah 42:22
- Wine Folly: Sugarplum, blueberry, dark chocolate, black pepper, black tea
- Winery: Deep purple in color with aromas of freshly baked berry cobbler, hints of vanilla wafer and anise. Soft supple entry with plush blue fruits, boysenberry, black plum and nutmeg spice on the palate. This wine finishes with ripe textured tannins that have been soften after aging 12 months in American Oak
- Empire Wine: The wine is impressively inky, dark and luscious in the glass. Supple fruits, including wild blackberry and Oregon blueberry, are distinct both in the aromatics and on first sip. Concentrated and rich, savory notes of toasty oak combine with mocha and hints of salted caramel.
- Michael David
- Winery: Petite Petit is a grandiose, booming, larger-than-life type of wine! Opening with show stopping aromas of ripe summer berries, Bing cherry and worn leather, this wine showcases rich flavors of plum, boysenberry and dark chocolate on the palate. Dark, robust and deeply satisfying!
- WE: This intense, inky, extra-ripe wine takes concentration to the next level. It is saturated with dried plum, black raisin and blackberry jam flavors on a tannic but still smooth texture, and drinks almost like a Port. Best from 2028.
- Winery: presents vibrant flavors of blueberry, plum and espresso
So what do you think? Is Petite Sirah on the list or not?
Yes! Would choose it over a big California Cabernet Sauvignon
Shoutout to Wine Road Podcast 43:38
Also, we want to do a quick shout out to some fellow wine podcasting friends we have made. We agreed to do a shout out exchange, and so here goes from our friends at Wine Road Podcast
Planning a trip to Sonoma Wine Country? Check out Wine Road Podcast for the Wine When and Where of Northern Sonoma County. Tune in for the latest happenings in the region. https://wineroadpodcast.com
We’ll also have a link to their website where you can catch their episodes in our show notes.
Outro and how to find The Wine Pair Podcast 44:38
Ok, so, Carmela, it is just about time for us to go, but before we do, we want to thank you very much for listening to us - AND if you haven’t done so yet, now would be the perfect time to subscribe to our podcast AND also a fantastic time to leave us a nice rating and review on our website or Apple podcasts or other podcast service - and it is an awesome and free way to support us and help us grow listeners.
We would also love to hear from you about a wine you would like us to taste and review. You can, leave a message for us on our website thewinepairpodcast.com, or you can just email us at email@example.com - and tell us about a wine you are curious about, or curious what we think of it. And, follow us on Instagram so you can see pictures of all of these wines we are tasting and reviewing, and Threads as well.
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Alright, with that, we are going to sign off, so thanks again, and we will see you next time. And, as we say, life is short, so stop drinking shitty wine.