Napa Valley winery reviews, recommendations, and photos from our weekly visits to wineries. Periodic reviews of interesting wines from around the world. Occasional musings about classical music as related to wine. Now Partners with Google Field Trip.
Friday, February 22, 2013
PS I Love You Seventh Annual Dark and Delicious Petite Sirah Event
Are you looking for a fun event with plenty of delicious food and interesting wine? We attended the PS I Love You Seventh Annual "Dark and
Delicious Petite Sirah" wine and food event on February 22, 2013 in Alameda, California. "PS I Love You" is
the name of the organization that sponsored the event with P.S. being the abbreviation for the wine
varietal Petite Sirah. PS I Love You
PS I Love You was founded in 2002 by Christine Wells-Groff,
Dan Berger and Jo Diaz while they were planning the First Annual Petite Sirah
Symposium which was held at Foppiano Vineyards. Foppiano Vineyards bought the domain
name and Rosenblum Cellars made initial payments to the Webmaster.
Geodesic dome with other tasting room on right
Thanks to Jo Diaz for
inviting us and providing VIP tickets as
part of the media. This allowed us to
arrive an hour early for a tour of Rock Wall Winery next to where the event was being
held. The tour was conducted by Shauna
Rosenblum the winemaker of Rockwall Wines.
Her family sold Rosenblum Cellars in 2008 and started Rock Wall Wine
Company in Alameda. Shauna is
listed in Women Winemakers of California. Shauna Rosenblum
Inside one of the Rock Wall tasting rooms
The tour was conducted with so much enthusiasm and passion that I
kept wondering where Shauna got all of her energy. Then I realized that she really loves being winemaker as much as she loves the winery. It was the first winery I ever visited that was in an airplane
locker with an additional tasting "room" in a geodesic dome. I can't even remember ever being in a
certified authentic geodesic dome, although I did read much about them back in
the 1960's when they were referred to as "Bucky Domes", because they
were designed by Buckminster Fuller.
Sort of modern Fung Shway influenced buildings with an ecological slant. I like them, although I'm not sure I would
want to live in one. But for tasting
wine it was great. Rock Wall Wines had some very good wines and we did not just get to
taste their Petite Sirahs but one of their sparkling wine as well. Rock Wall Winery
Linda Vista Winery owner Charles Melver introduced Petite Sirah to Californiain 1884. The Petite Sirah varietal was originally known in France
as Durif, although the Petite Sirah grown in the U.S. was not identified genetically as such until 2003. It is a cross between Syrah and Peloursin. The varietal is hardly known in France
anymore but has become something of an all American wine similar to Zinfandel,
even though neither originated in the U.S.
Relaxed and friendly
My first introduction to Petite Sirahs was in 1974 when I went to a blind tasting of PS with
friends. It was the first time I ever
tasted one and I was hooked. They were
big, bold, tannic wines, usually very dry, with pepper and substance. I had found an alternative to Cabernets. I
remember Ridge and Stags' Leap Winery making very good ones and, of course,
Concannon. My first visit to Ridge and
Concannon was in 1975. I've had a lot of
PS over the past 40 years and am very fond of the varietal, even though I know
it has some limitations. It is often
blended with other varietals but, like Cabs, the PS can handle that and often
excels in blends, although I'm fine with it at 100%. This is a varietal I
PS I Love You hanging sign.
One major advantage to these festivals is that you
can taste wines from wineries that are not open to the public, small wineries
with very limited production and distribution. I decided to focus initially on those few
wineries that my research indicated would be especially interesting. I saved
the better known wineries such as Robert Biale, Ridge and Concannon for the
end. I was disappointed that Kent
Rasmussen did not attend with his Esoterica Petite Syrah, the 2007 being my
favorite with his 2009 also being lovely.
making some of the finest and most interesting PS I've had recently. Of recent vintages I also loved Gustavo Thrace's
2006 PS. I was also disappointed not to see Stags' Leap Winery, who
participated in this even last year and whose Petite Sirah I've been drinking and
appreciating since the early 1980s.
I had eaten just prior to the festival so did not sample much of the food. I had my usual spit cup in one hand, wine glass in the other and notebook in my underarm. Instead of trying to juggle these to take detailed tasting notes or simply giving 100 point scale ratings to all of the wines, I decided to spend more time focusing on and learning about small wineries with which I was unfamiliar. As usual I prepared a plan of attack by making a list of the wineries I did not want to miss. After visiting each winery on my check off list, I tasted other wines until the crowds were becoming thicker and the music seemed to be getting too loud. We arrived there at 5 and the event was from 6 to 9, but we left by 8 to head back to Napa. Anyhow, while we were there, I felt like I was panning for gold, and I did find some gold nuggets.
Hardly any crowd at the beginning
My favorite Petite Sirah of the tasting was the Trueheart
Vineyard 2010 Petite Sirah ($35) from SonomaValley. Only 324 cases were
produced by winemaker Alex Beloz. Very deep, dark purple in color, this was
incredibly well-balanced, with ripe blackberry, along
with very nice PS pepper, a great mouth-feel and an intense but not overly
extracted presentation. It had great structure
with well integrated tannins and eschewed the fruitier, sweeter presentation
that is found in some Petite Sirahs these days.
It was so good I couldn't bear to spit it out and swallowed. This is one of the very finest Petite Sirahs I've had in recent years and the sort of Petite Sirah that makes the
varietal so dear to me. I plan to order some of this and take careful notes. Trueheart Vineyard
My second favorite Petite Sirah was the Aver Family
Vineyards 2009 Petite Sirah Blessings ($49). I
even returned at the end as we were leaving because I wanted to taste more
without having to spit. It was the only
Petite Syrah beside Trueheart that I plan to purchase and explore in more detail. Aver Family Vineyard
I also really liked the Robert Biale 2010 Petite Sirah Like
Father Like Son, a Syrah and Petite Sirah blend and the Robert Biale 2009
Thomann Station Petite Sirah. I thought
the Shadowbrook 2010 Double Trouble was very good, especially at only $25. It is 65% Petite Sirah and 35% Petite Verdot
with only 96 cases having been made. And I enjoyed the Shadowbrook 2010 Petite Sirah Pre-release ($38). Rock
Wall Winery also had some very good Petite Sirahs. Although I am
usually very fond of Ridge Petite Sirahs, I was less impressed than usual with
their offerings this year.
San Francisco skyline as seen from the parking lot.
The Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah event is far smaller
than ZAP or the Zinfandel Festival and has a
much wider variety of food. There was no
waiting at all for the food and with most of the wineries (up until the last hour) you could simply walk
right up and ask for a pour without having to push through a crowd. Everyone
seemed to be having a great time and I saw many smiling faces. There was plenty
of parking and Google provided very good directions. The main reason for
attending for me was to sample wines from small, limited
production wineries that are not open to the public. But most people seemed to be attending simply to have a good time and it appeared they were doing so. I highly encourage you to
check this event out when it comes around again next year.