Blind tasting of 13 Petite Sirahs incl Jaffurs, Ch. Montelena, Ridge, Stags Leap WC

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Blake Brown
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Blind tasting of 13 Petite Sirahs incl Jaffurs, Ch. Montelena, Ridge, Stags Leap WC

Post by Blake Brown » Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:24 am

Our monthly tasting group blind tasted Petite Sirah [Durif] earlier this year and my newly discovered notes are being formally and expressed.

We had 19 wines in total with 3 flights of 5 and one flight of 4. I`m reviewing only a few of them:

1994 STAGS LEAP WINE CELLARS NAPA PETITE SIRAH- not to be confused with Stags Leap Winery, [see below] this is a rare bird from a producer renown for their Cabernets; the colour showed some age with a dark coffee hue; the nose was a welcoming spicy, dark chocolate with a dollop of talc; the taste was so different with minty black currant and black raspberry with a hint of Brett; it was full bodied and hung around for a long finish.

2005 CHATEAU MONTELENA NAPA PETITE SIRAH- my favourite in this flight and a candidate for wine of the night; it had all of the PS character I prefer; the colour was a deceiving dark prune colour, but that`s where the deviation ended; the aromatics had spicy dark chocolate which continued on with serious black pepper accents highlighting the wondrous blueberry and blackberry fruit; it was full bodied, had bright acidity and hit the mid palate in full stride all the way to the back end leading toward a crescendoing climax.


2012 CONSILIENCE SANTA BARBARA COUNTY PETITE SIRAH- sourced from 3 different vineyards, 81% La Presa, 15% Estelle and 4% Terra Alta; made by good friend Brett Escallera who has been with the winery since inception and stayed on after the initial owners, also good friends, sold to Bill and Jan Sanger; the dark inky colour was indicative of some serious juice here and it definitely complied; it had a huge bouquet of black spicy fruit followed by black pepper, spice, dark chocolate, coffee and liquorice flavoured blackberry and blueberry; it had a backbone of bright acidity and bold tannins which will support longevity as it moves toward maturity in abut 10-15 years; my first in its flight.

2012 JAFFURS THOMPSON VINEYARD SANTA BARBARA COUNTY PETITE SIRAH- from the esteemed Thompson Vineyard also renown for other varietals including Syrah which is the best in their lineup of Syrahs that Jaffurs makes IMHO, this showcased all of the redeeming qualities of Petite Sirah with textbook violets, pepper and spice accenting the blueberry , plum and blackberry sweet and jammy fruit; it was full bodied, had layers of depth and held on for a long sustained finish; I had it tied for 1st with the 2012 Consilience in the first flight.

2014 RIDGE WINERY LYTTON ESTATE VINEYARD DRY CREEK VALLEY- 100% Petite Sirah although this is typically blended with a same amount of Zinfandel; the nose is redolent with toasty oak and vanilla which leads into the spicy and liquorice flavoured blueberry and a touch of black currant; it was as serious as its inky colour and had a tannic foundation to support a long and pleasurable life.

2013 CARLISLE WINERY DRY CREEK VALLEY PETITE SIRAH- with its deep, dark purple colour, this serious wine had a lot of energy; it was replete with oaky notes including some vanilla and coffee to support the earthy toned blueberry and blackberry fruit; it had youthful exuberance and seemed to be wanting to run wild and right out of the glass; I held my hand over the top of the bowl to keep it contained.

2013 STAGS LEAP WINERY NAPA PETITE SIRAH- the inky dark purple colour was indicative of a seriously extracted wine which held true upon tasting; first, the nose had a huge dose of spicy pepper and black fruit which turned out to be ripe and concentrated blackberry and black cherry; the tannins were pretty stiff and unrelenting suggesting a lot of time is needed for this to evolve and balance out; after a gangbusters start, the finish was severely astringent; I`d like to re-visit this in about 10-12 years; it should be a winner.

2012 JAFFURS THOMPSN VINEYARD SANTA BARBARA COUNTY PETITE SIRAH- one of the potential pitfalls in doing blind tastings is how the wines fall when randomly selected; the 2013 version of this wine came in an earlier flight and both were stunning and as later noted, we also had the 2011 and 2014 which would have made for a perfect vertical flight; this bottle gave generous spicy blackberry notes to support the intense streak of pepper running through to the end; the fruit profile was more on the grapey side which for me translates into a semi-sweet childhood memory of Welch`s grape juice but not to a fault; it just needs time to integrate; there`s also an underlying statement of acidity that supports longevity; I had it 3rd in the flight and the group had it tied for #1 with the 2014 [coming up next].

2014 JAFFURS THOMPSON VINEYARD SANTA BARBARA COUNTY PETITE SIRAH- this did arrive in the same flight as the 2012 a couple of wines removed; both Craig Jaffurs and Dave Yates who made these wines were at this tasting and I suspect each contributed at least one of the 4 bottles we had; this one was superb and firing on all cylinders; it was even nicely balanced with bright acidity, fresh ripe fruit and a streak of spice and pepper to provide just the right amount of accent; this was as good as any Petite I`ve had in a long time; my #1 for the tasting and tied for the group`s #1 in the flight.

2011 JAFFURS THOMPSON VINEYARD SANTA BARBARA COUNTY PETITE SIRAH- separated from the other 3 vintages of this wine, this arrived in our last flight and won it as well; the colour was a deep dark purple and the aromatics had that spicy pepper that is such a distinguishing character from this vineyard; there was blueberry, blackberry and plum with a hint of liquorice; this is still very spry and youthful as were the others and with the underlying acidity, longevity is assured; I think the mouthfeel on this one was the best of all 4.

2013 CONSILIENCE LA PRESA VINEYARD SANTA BARBARA COUNTY PETIE SIRAH- as opposed to the 2012 which was sourced from this and 2 other vineyards, this was 100% La Presa; the spicy rich dark fruit was a bit more mellow in this one; it had a medium body and soft texture; the fruit profile was almost subdued, but there was enough to please the most discerning of palates; another way of saying it, this was Peite Sirah Light.

2013 EPIPHANY CELLARS RODNEY`S VINEYARD SANTA BARBARA COUNTY PETITE SIRAH- this flamboyant beast had an inky teeth staining dark purple colour to initiate the substantial onslaught on the palate; first came some violets and chocolate in the nose followed by vanilla infused plum, blueberry and blackberry fruit; it had firm tannins, a full body and layers of concentration; it`s kind of wild and wooly now, but I suspect it will settle down and evolve into a fine Petite.

I`m always reminded when I do these notes how much I enjoy blind tastings. They provide such an even playing field and break down all biases toward name, varietal, vintage and pricing.


Please excuse typos and unintended auto-corrects

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