This month’s edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, number 40 to be exact, is being hosted by Sonadora at Wannabewino. WBW was started in the summer of 2004 by Lenn Thompson of LennDevours. Each month, the event gives its participants reason to pop a cork or three and perhaps to drink and think about a wine that wouldn’t normally cross their path. That’s certainly the case for me this time around, as Sonadora’s topic of choice is Petite Sirah, the wine equivalent of the monster truck and a variety that I more or less gave up on many moons ago. She’s extended the scope of the tasting to include Durif, a vine native to, yet now rarely grown in, France. Long believed to be one and the same as Petite Sirah, recent DNA fingerprinting of Durif at UC Davis has cast significant doubt on the relationship. So, I played the straight and narrow, sticking with a California Petite Sirah. Regrettably, my choice for today’s event didn’t go too far toward rekindling my interest in Petite Sirah as a varietal wine.
Lodi Petite Sirah “Old Vine,” Trinitas Cellars 2004
Trinitas Cellars (Matthew A. Cline, Winemaker) Petite Sirah “Old Vine,” Lodi 2004
This is inky black, totally opaque juice, with a veil of deep purple air bubbles breaking the surface when first poured. Immediate aromas are of blueberry pie filling, blackberry jam and confectionery black cherries, all topped off with a dash of smoky oak. This theme carries through on the palate, where jammy, flamboyant fruit and sweet oak predominate. Relative to earlier vintages, this was surprisingly soft, its tannins – as much from wood as grapes – hiding in the background. I can certainly see how the big flavors of this wine could be instantly appealing; I just found them overwhelming, particularly when moving beyond the first glass. With air, aromatic intensity subsided and the flavors flattened and became a bit muddied. Low in alcohol by Petite Sirah standards though high relative to my usual preferences, the wine handles its 14.5% well, showing it in textural richness but avoiding any heat or alcoholic imbalance on the finish.
To its credit, particularly after the dulled flavors toward the end of the first evening, the wine held up into day two, shedding a bit of its showiness and revealing a tad more structure. The tannins I expect from Petite Sirah came out to play, resulting in a slightly aggressive, wide-grained feel in the mouth, a feel which persisted long beyond the wine’s otherwise short finish. The dark berry fruit tones continued from day one and were joined by raisined aromas and a whiff of latex paint crossed with mentholated tobacco.
This is wine to be consumed on its own rather than with food. It did no favors to either fairly rich meat lasagna or to grilled buffalo burgers. Neither bad nor good with each dish, it just kind of sat there and did its own thing – not what I hope for in a good pairing.
$22. 14.5% alcohol. Natural cork closure.