This past weekend, The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story on Petite Sirah’s uptick in popularity. And while some of the people they interviewed for the piece weren’t thrilled with its potential in single-varietal wines (for the record, I strongly disagree with that assessment), the fact remains that it provided some much-deserved attention for the grape variety.
Much of the article focused on its prowess as a blending grape; one sommelier, Erin O’Shea, said that “it’s always been there in wines you know and love, but behind the scenes.” And Glen Proctor, a grape-broker, is quoted as saying that much Zinfandel “wouldn’t taste like Zin without Pitite Sirah.”
But the comments about Petite Sirah’s potential as a single-varietal wine weren’t quite as overwhelmingly positive, a position I personally disagree with. In fact, last year, I had the unique opportunity to taste a number of back-vintage Petite Sirahs from the excellent Sonoma producer Foppiano—I built a tasting around them at the Wine School—and was thrilled with both the quality and range of expression of the wines, including the 1986, 1987, 1992, and 1993.
But even younger, easier-to-source bottlings can be wonderful. And, as the article notes, producers like Bogle, Concannon, and Parducci, among others, are leading the way to a Petite Sirah future of bold flavors, rich textures, and, quite often these days, elegance, too. The time, it seems, has come for a second look at Petite Sirah.