Petite Sirah is such a funny grape. Instilling vague reactions of “Huh?” in many, “Meh… whatever” in others and yet several producers in California dedicating basically their entire production to its honor. My deep affection for this variety goes back several decades to teeth-cutting years with Contra Costa County, Clarksburg, Mendocino and the Sierra Foothills, where it carved an un-healing wound of fascination. While it classically has been type-cast as a brooding, ripe, unrelentingly-structured, grainy liquid, that isn’t wholly fair, and this wine is a perfect example.
Medium-dense purple-ruby with blue edges, staining the glass dark-pink from the sliver of clear at the edge. Department-store perfume from classic brands fill the nose, a sharp raspberry noodles along red-dust trails over-grown with somber woodsiness. Meyer lemon and sweet herbaceousness offer shy points of reflection against preening fruit. This ISN’T going to be a version jumping out at your face, also not one of the rather-common scenarios where hi-alc and RS jimmy themselves with ridiculous tannin to thwart the prune. This wine is meticulous in presentation.
Equally shy on the palate, and while *round* textures exist, they reflect coffee-ground, nutmeg and tobacco notes layered in light, complex beauty. But it’s NOT a light wine. It just tricks you that direction. The middle explodes in brash exuberance, tannin visible and poised, pouncing on receptors anticipating lesser concentration. The berry goes full-cherry and August blackberry, a savory muddle offering salty juxtaposition with creamy moist earth and licorice icing against the briary tang of harnessed ripeness. Gloriously bitter and gratingly tannic, sweet fruit gracing each curve, a body pronounced enough to make swallowing difficult. Gorgeous stuff: one to make the variety proud, and equally so its loyal fans.
2018 MOUNTAIN TIDES Petite Sirah California 13.4