E Wine of the Week

By Bruce Cochran
Petite Sirah vs. Syrah
Hello Everyone,
Some of us don’t care how hot it is outside, we want a hearty red wine any time of year. Let’s take a look at two excellent wines with large followings, but sometimes confused since each has two names. They even sound the same, but are actually two different grapes.
Try a new wine this week!
Vina Robles Petite Sirah
The names sound a lot alike, and sometimes even descriptions of these two deeply colored red wines sound similar. But, even though they are distant cousins, Syrah and Petite Sirah are not the same.
Like most of the wine grapes we know and love, both originated, at least for the modern wine world, in France. Syrah is the main grape of the Rhone River Valley in the southeastern part of that country, comprising all or part of wines like Cotes du Rhone, Chateauneuf du Pape, Hermitage and Cote-Rotie.
Petite Sirah is also from the south of France, but more south central than southeastern. Its local name is Duriff.
With names that sound so much alike, and similarly styled, many wine lovers have long assumed that these two grape varieties were close relatives. But, tests done in recent years show that these grapes are only distant cousins.
At their best, both are deep in color, with Petite Sirah a darker, denser, almost purple black. In the nose, Syrah is sometimes described as peppery. On the palate, Petite Sirah is usually described as having flavors of black fruits, while many Syrahs are described as having a combination of black and red fruit flavors.
Syrah was made popular by the Australians, who call it Shiraz. It is grown around the world under both names. Petite Sirah is more eclectic, grown in fewer places by fewer people, with a loyal following of fans.
One good single vineyard Petite Sirah that is available locally is Vina Robles, from Paso Robles on California’s Central Coast. The grapes are grown on the backside of the coastal mountains, which block the cool ocean breezes. Petite Sirah thrives in the hot, dry days, yielding a dark, full-bodied red wine that will stand up to just about any dish you pair with it. It retails for about $25.

Categories: Legacy Archive