Not So Small There is nothing petite about this grape. Petite Sirah, the result of a crossing between Syrah and Peloursin, is also known as Durif. Being the father, Syrah imparted some of its flavors and characteristics to its offspring, but the two grapes are decisively different. Petite Sirah is mostly found in California, where it gained popularity as a blending partner, but has come into its own as a single varietal wine.
Notable Facts A common descriptor for Petite Sirah is inky. And so it is - the dark skinned grape creates wines that are tannic, sturdy, jammy and of course, stain-your-teeth purple. As a blender, the grape helps to add structure and backbone to wines made in not-so-perfect vintages. As a sole variety, the wine typically shows off a peppery spice, with concentrated fruit flavors reminiscent of plums and prunes with notes of cherries and blackberries. The variety continues to gain respect in California for single varietal production and making some delicious and intense wines.
Summing it up Successful Sites: California, South Africa
Common Descriptors: Inky, peppery, prunes, black fruit, leather
Learn More About North Coast, California
Beyond Napa and Sonoma in the north you find a couple of other counties producing great wine. Among these are Mendocino and Lake County. The northernmost California winegrowing regions, these two counties are right above Napa and Sonoma, geographically. Yet, wine-wise they are very different – both from their southern neighbors and from each other.
Mendocino has a high amount of organic vintners and vines. The first winery to settle here was Fetzer, which practices organic viticulture and holds some of the most vineyard land in the area. Mendocino has many pockets of micro-climates while Lake County, being smaller in size, is less diverse climactically. As for the grapes, Chardonnay is the most popular in both counties, but there are also some excellent Sauvignon Blancs, particularly in the Lake County. In red wine, Zinfandel leads the way, followed by Rhone Blends and Petite Sirah. The reds in both counties are complex and sumptuous. Anderson Valley is a sub-AVA of Mendicino and is quite well known for its excellent cool climate, producing the delicious Roederer Estate sparkling wines and some wonderful cool-climate Syrah.