Friday, October 14, 2011

San Simeon Petite Sirah (2006)

Outside of Oregon's Willamette Valley, the wine region in the United States that captures my interest the most is the Paso Robles region in California.  Located about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Paso Robles is home to dozens of vineyards and wineries who grow more than forty different grape varietals.  The primary varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Petite Sirah, in that order. Paso Robles also has its own AVA (American Viticultural Area), which is the American equivalent of a DOC in France or Italy. 

While perusing the aisles of a local wine store, I came across a Petit Sirah from Paso Robles.   A common mistake is to assume, as I did for a while, that a Petit Sirah and a Syrah are wines made from the same grape.  However, a Petit Sirah wine is produced with the Durif grape, which is a cross between the Syrah grape and the Pelousin grape. Although first discovered by Dr. Francois Durif, a botanist at a university in Southern France, few, if any, French vineyards and wineries do not grow the Durif grape or produce the Petit Sirah wines.  Instead, the largest producers of these wines are found in Australia and California, such as in the Paso Robles AVA. 

One producer of Petit Sirah wines is the San Antonio Winery.  This winery has been in operation since 1917, and, over time, it has expanded to produce wines under several labels.  One such label is San Simeon.  The San Simeon Petit Sirah is produced from Durif grapes grown at the Steinbeck Vineyard that were harvested on September 21, 2006.  The wine is aged in barrels (consisting of 70% French oak and 30% American oak) for twenty-four months.

The San Simeon Petite Sirah pours a red velvet color, with purplish hues.  The aromatic elements of the wine are full of dark red fruit, like raspberries, blackberries and plums.  The taste of the wine reinforces the aromas. One can taste blackberries and plums both up front and through the wine, is full bodied and "jammy."  This wine has tannins, which particularly show themselves in the finish.

The one thing that a Petite Sirah and a Syrah share in common is that they are best paired with roasted or grilled meat dishes.  This includes beef and lamb, as well as some other meats that one may not ordinarily think of, such as duck or rabbit. 

Overall, this wine has some of the best characteristics of a Petit Sirah.  I found this wine at a local wine store for about $19.99 a bottle. 


For more information about the Durif grape, check out Wikipedia.

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