After over three weeks on the road, and tasting wine in Idaho, Walla Walla Washington and the Willamette Valley in Oregon, I made it Monday July 25 to Jim Concannon’s birthday dinner to celebrate his 80th and Petite Sirah at the PS I Love You Petite Sirah Symposium Tuesday July 26 at Concannon Winery in Livermore. (Links to participating wineries and those discussed below the jump; here’s a blog post by Jo Diaz about the events. Pictured below is Jim Concannon’s son John honoring him; pictured above is Karen Leslie who sat next to me).
What to eat with your Petite? If a summer time dinner or lunch outside under the table grape arbor at Concannon is any indication, it’s barbeque tri-tip, chicken, and beans!
But there is more to life than barbeque, so at Tuesday’s Petite Sirah symposium, Ellen Landis, Sommelier, proprietor of Landis Shores Luxury Inn, and author of Ellen on Wine shared some of her ideas on which foods pair best with Petite Sirah. I tried valiantly to take notes which she spoke; unfortunately, many of them were lost when I lost my internet connection! But basically, her main point was:
Drink what YOU like.
Since there are different styles of Petite sirah, the question really is which style goes with which food.
A basic rule of thumb is to match or contrast–match heavy meals with heavier wine styles, match flavor profiles or contrast them. Avoid pairing delicate dishes (like sole) with a powerful wine like Petite.
How to gain creaminess with Petite Sirah? Landis suggest beef stroganoff paired with Rock Wall 2009. She also had specific suggestions of which Petite Sirah would go best with beef or pork tenderloin. At lunch I sat with Rock Wall winemaker Shauna Rosenblum (and yes I will be blogging about her soon! What a great story!) and tasted her Rock Wall 2009 Gamble Ranch that afternoon. This wine retails at $30 and is very rich and creamy in a cream soda or root beer float kind of way, very spicy, maple syrup, and chocolate malt.
Ellen Landis noted that the French pair red wines with fish–so don’t be afraid! She says try a blackened salmon with a PS; Ellen paired hers with a fruity Michael David PS which is 50% PS with 50% Petite verdot.
While most of us think of Petite Sirah as going with meat, vegetarians can enjoy PS with eggplant parmagiana with a variety of petite sirah styles. PS stands up to the fullness of the sauce and the creamy mozzarella allows the tomato sauce to work well and not clash.
Cheeses with Petite Sirah are great as a dessert course. For most palates, the wine should be as sweet as the dessert so consider Danish blue cheese. She did a Dry Creek Valley Pedroncelli and it accented the pepperiness in the wine and the cheese. I tasted the 08 Pedroncelli from Dry Creek later that day and found the tannins were soft, and in fact I noted that the wine was “pretty” in the glass, on the nose and in the palate.
Swiss gruyere has salt and sweetness. When the cheese is young and creamy and nutty, Ellen says go for a PS with spice. Aged swiss goes well with an earthier PS: she went with a 2007 Shenandoah Valley PS from Bray Vineyards.
I met John Hody, the GM and winemaker from Bray; they make about 3600 cases of 22 wines including Tempranillo and Verdelho–the AVA up there in Amador County is well above the fog and warm which Petite Sirah likes. When I tasted it that afternoon, I found the 08 “husky” and very earthy, but a few days later, I am finding it FANTASTIC full of fun blue berry fruit which reminds me how well PS likes to hang out in the cellar for a few years.
Gorganzola can be made from cows or goats; as a young creamy cheese Ellen says it works well with a fruitier PS like a Concannon PS. I didn’t catch which Concannon PS–there’s a few of them! But I’d bet Nina’s Cuvee would be ideal; it retails at $25 and comes from old vine fruit making it very intensely flavored yet very “sweet” and fruity.
With sharp cheddar, Ellen suggested an 07 McKay from Lodi.
McKay produces mostly zin plus about 200 cases of PS from their vineyards in the northeast corner of the Lodi AVA which he has been farming for over 15 years allowing him to understand the nuances of the land and how this vine grows there. I tasted the o8 and found it well balanced with soft tannins and lots of fruit. He was apologetic about the 07 which has a hint of brett but I still liked it a lot and didn’t find the brett off-putting. He decided not to release it but if you like some brett horse leather with your fruit track down McKay Cellars in Lodi!
Aged gouda: a big wine brings out the depth. She paired hers with a Trentadue PS.
So remember, think about what suits YOUR palate yet remember the weight of body of the wine should match the dish.
As promised, here are the links to many of the wineries discussed above. I plan another blog post with more notes about the Petite Sirah wines I tasted (to get a hint from which wineries peek below) and more photos too!
- Aratas Wines ~ Napa
- Artezin Wines ~ Napa
- Artisan Family of Wines ~ Napa
- Aver Family Vineyards ~ San Martin
- Bogle Vineyards & Winery ~ Clarksburg
- Bray Vineyards ~ Plymouth
- Clavo Cellars ~ Templeton
- Concannon Vineyard ~ Sponsor ~ Livermore
- Crooked Vine | Stony Ridge Winery ~ Livermore
- Diamond Ridge Vineyards ~ Lake County
- Don Sebastiani & Sons ~ Sonoma
- Eagle Ridge Vineyard ~ Livermore
- Edwards Vineyard & Cellars ~ Ramona Valley
- Foppiano Vineyards ~ Russian River Valley
- Girard Winery ~ Napa
- Guglielmo Winery ~ Santa Clara Valley
- Gustafson Family Vineyards ~ Dry Creek Valley
- Heringer Estates ~ Clarksburg
- Jazz Cellars ~ Bay Area
- Justice Grace ~ San Francisco
- Langtry Estate ~ Lake County
- Las Positas Vineyard ~ Livermore
- McCay Cellars ~ Lodi
- McGrail Vineyards & Winery ~ Livermore
- Miro Cellars ~ Alexander Valley
- Mounts Family Winery ~ Dry Creek Valley
- Nottingham Cellars ~ Livermore
- Occasio Winery ~ Livermore
- Page Mill Winery ~ Livermore
- Parducci Wine Cellars ~ Mendocino
- Pedroncelli Winery ~Dry Creek Valley
- Ridge Vineyards ~ Dry Creek Valley
- Robert Biale Vineyards ~ Presenting ~ Napa
- Rock Wall Wine Company ~ Alameda
- Ruby Hill Winery ~ Livermore
- Somerston Wine Company ~Napa
- Spangler Vineyards ~ Roseburg, Oregon
- Thomas Coyne Winery ~ Livermore
- Trentadue Winery ~ Alexander Valley
- Vina Robles ~ Paso Robles
- Vincent Arroyo ~ Napa
- Wente ~ Livermore
- Wilson Vineyards ~ Presenting~ Clarksburg