In Praise of Petite Sirah: PS I Love You, Old Creek Ranch Winery + Four Brix!

Every third Friday in February, 800 or so Petite Sirah enthusiasts gather at Rockwall Winery in Alameda CA to sing the praises of Petite Sirah at the always sold out in advance PS I Love You event, Dark and Delicious which features 50 some dark Petite Sirahs paired with 25 or more delicious dishes. Tickets are $65–and if you want one, you better buy it immediately!

Since Que Syrah Sue and I can not make it up north for the festivities, we decided to have our own Dark and Delicious evening at my house in Ventura. We each brought one of our favorite Ventura County winery Petite Sirahs to the table along with various cheeses and other bites.

What to eat with your Petite? Ideas from Ellen Landis at PS I Love You Symposium

Bg4dpUsCAAA1L3D-1My contribution was the Old Creek Ranch Winery 2011 from Branham Obsidian Vineyard in Napa. I wrote about this wine in 2010; it’s a wine almost always found in the Old Creek Ranch Winery stable.  Sue and I visited the winery the other day and I picked this one up.

ocr-open-909When I first opened the Old Creek Ranch Winery PS, I was startled to smell ripe bananas. So startled that I looked around the kitchen to see where the ripe bananas were! As there were none, I realized it was coming from the glass and gave it a swirl and a sniff–and then passed it over to Sue for confirmation. She too could smell the banana. As the wine opened up, we even tasted banana in the mid-palate. In addition to banana, we found blue fruit in the noise and pomegranate and tart cherry on the palate.ocrroadends

A mild and youthful Petite, it’s surprisingly easy to drink –we wondered where half the bottle disappeared to! Usually a PS demands more robust food–like a big steak or hearty stew but this one complimented our cheeses wonderfully and would actually work as a sipper or a cocktail wine because it is so easy to drink and to enjoy.

Forget your memories of big bold tannic Petites–this one is a subtle purring pussycat ready to love you up and love everything in its path from cheeses to chicken! Cork closure and retails at $35.

Old Creek Ranch Winery’s John Whitman says that “Petite will remain in our future, mostly because of the vineyards unique qualities and Michael’s abilities to follow through with what the grapes give us to work with. Originally we purchased the PS to pickup the finish on our Cab. I told the vineyard owner who is an old friend that he should tear everything out a plant PS after that first year. We are delighted to be participants in the quest to highly respected Petite Sirahs.”

While Petite Sirah has traditionally been used as a blending agent to add color and pizzazz (note the highly technical wine term), today more and more wineries are reserving their best Petite Sirahs to showcase them, and PS I Love You as a Petite Sirah advocacy group has accomplished a lot in bringing attention to this wine and those who produce it at their annual consumer event “Dark and Delicious” as well as the annual Petite Sirah Symposium held each summer which I attended in 2011 (read more about that tasting here and here).

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The Four Brix Petite Sirah from Sonoma is more of what most people expect in a Petite Sirah–it’s big it’s bold in fact it’s mighty mighty it’s a brick house!

First thing we noticed was the oak on the nose and the tannins on the palate from the oak. Not to say that this is like sucking on a piece of oak but that with all this oak it’s going to pair well with a really big meal or at least strong cheeses.

On the front palate it’s a bright fruit like currants and raspberries but on the back palate and the finish it’s more about the oak and tannins, leather and cigar box, husky and musky.  This is a wine that could age gracefully for a number of years and I’m grateful that Sue offered to open it for us.

This is a big passionate wine. And blue cheese is its best friend.

If you are lucky enough to still have one of the 300 bottles of the Four Brix Petite Sirah that were produced… pair it with a rib-eye  steak with blue cheese drizzled on it.

If you were not, you can still get lucky. While Four Brix did not make a 2010 because the fruit was lost in the vineyard, the 2011 Petite Sirah from Russian River is about 200 cases and it will be released soon.

While these grapes aren’t from Ventura County vines, all of the wine making is done here, just a few miles from my house. So even thought I can’t travel to Dark and Delicious this weekend, I can drive just a few minutes and be in the company of some great Petite Sirahs.

The two wineries themselves couldn’t be more different than their Petite Sirahs! Old Creek Ranch Winery is a working ranch in the rolling foothills and oaks between Ventura and Ojai while Four Brix makes its wine in the warehouse district of Ventura which is quickly becoming a “wine ghetto” with neighbors including Plan B and Surf Brewery.

Read about Four Brix Scosso.

Read about Old Creek Ranch Winery.

Here are some poems we wrote during a writing workshop at Old Creek Ranch Winery.

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