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What's Up with Petite Sirah?

Ever wonder what the differences are between Syrah and Petite Sirah? And is Petite Sirah really “petite?”

One of the most common questions we get asked at wine tasting events is “what is the difference between Syrah and Petite Sirah?”  It turns out that Petite Sirah and Syrah are different varietals, but are indeed related to each other with the relationship beginning back in the 1800’s.

A French botanist, Francois Durif discovered what we now call Petite Sirah growing in a vineyard planted with Peloursin (a relatively obscure varietal today). DNA research has shown that the Peloursin flowers were cross-pollinated with pollen from a nearby Syrah vineyard. In 1880, Durif named the new vine after himself and in fact, today, Durif and Petite Sirah are recognized to be one and the same. Although there are a few wine producers that label the wine as Durif, the vast majority use the varietal name Petite Sirah.

Many people assume that Petite Sirah must be a delicate wine – but nothing could be further than the truth.  The “petite” refers to the small size of the berries, which are packed with deep color and tannins. The result is a deep, dark and dense wine that goes extremely well with meats (think grilled steak) and also pairs beautifully with dark chocolate. At Jazz Cellars we typically age our Petite Sirah for at least 2 years in oak to help it mellow and to reduce some of the aggressive tannins.  Once bottled, it also requires a long period of time to overcome bottle shock and settle down – a year in the bottle before release is not unusual.  A well-made Petite Sirah will age well in the cellar for many years and will gradually mellow a bit over time.

Check out Petite Sirah for a summer bbq or serve it with chunks of dark chocolate for a great dessert with friends.

Bob Smith
Jazz Cellars Winery - Foster City 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Joe Lazzara June 21, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I once had a Sparkling Durif while in the Hunter Valley region of Australia. It was bubbly, sweet and dark red. Not recommended!! JL
Phyllis McArthur June 21, 2012 at 11:44 PM
This sounds so Yummy! Thanks for the tip, Bob.

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