Go West Young Man

Hard to believe this thing has 7 years on it, but that’s the way Petite Sirah is. For decades relegated to the files of Cornas and Hermitage as wines literally “undrinkable” at under 10, it has always intrigued me young and the styles have definitely become more approachable–like the other two mentioned–early on. Black and staining, nearly impenetrable purple-ruby, the nose on this one doesn’t show the abrasive tightness of old-school examples, but it’s not far off. The rosy glow of the variety is there–not quite as chubby as Zinfandel–but unmistakable. One of my all-time favorite wine-grapes, but I tend to gravitate to the heritage, un-sung varieties of the early Italian-inspired California wine-making scene. I’m weird like that. Dense but not jammy, a composty overgrowth coating the black cherry and pomegranate. Peaty hints churn through the concentration: a true testimony to the head-trained, old-vine burls growing in severe diurnal rhythms of the North Coast. It’s a thick mélange, toying with licorice, redwood and blood orange on a baseline of dirty petrichor. Decanted vigorously.

In the mouth, the expected tertiary seems to be peeking through a bit more than the bouquet would indicate. Supple and smooth, chalky obfuscation of fruit an event not understood until late-middle–although hinted at in the entry. Ridiculous depth plies a more complex path than the chubby berry would originally indicate, producing a thick elixir sliding down your throat, invigorated on all sides by spicy goodness. It’s SOOO dense, so chewy and teeth-wiping in its delivery, a shocking bolt of energy follows the initial fruit-injection, causing knee-quivering tension and sighing satisfaction despite the initial massage. Tannin races to the fore-front in an attempt to wipe out your lollipop-lickings in crushed-seed fashion but can’t quite overwhelm the black black blackberry. Not a SPECK of heat–despite the proof–a true testament to balance.

Gorgeous from start-to-finish, an absolute DREAM come true for die-hard fans of Petite Sirah–especially those raised on the classic versions. The website shows this vintage still available, so a cellar-direct aged wine is within reach for everyone. This is real Petite Sirah. California in a bottle.

2013 WEST OF TEMPERANCE Petite Sirah Giannecchini Ranch Mendocino Co. 15.2


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