PS I Love You Hits The Road; Reviews of Petite Sirah by Cantara, Back Patio

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This Sat. Feb. 6, 2016 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m,

10 Participating Wineries
will share their Petite Sirah wines

 Vina Robles Hospitality Center
Paso Robles, CA

Barr Estate Winery

Berryessa Gap Vineyards

Cantara Cellars

Clayhouse Wines

Graveyard Vineyards

Gustafson Family Vineyards

Red Soles Winery

Robert Biale Vineyards

Le Cuvier Winery

Vina Robles Winery

PS I Love You’s signature February event “Dark & Delicious” is on the road!

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After years of being a Bay Area food and wine event, the Petite Sirah advocacy group led by Jo and Jose Diaz is taking to the road with their first stop Paso Robles where participants will taste terroir from Lake, Lodi, Paso, Sonoma, Napa, and Winters and learn to define and differentiate terroir characteristics bringing the event back to its purpose: “To educate consumers about Petite Sirah as a heritage variety, with a special emphasis on its terroir uniqueness.”

“Dark & Delicious had grown to a point where we have put all of our eggs into one basket,” organizer Jo Diaz told me.

“It became critical to rethink how we were going to be getting out the word to more than one area in California, and be so vulnerable to something that could go terribly wrong,” Jo explained. “So, we’ve morphed into regional tastings, and the membership is very excited about the new direction.”

In California, Petite Sirah is grown on close to 9,000 acres — a considerable amount! For comparison, grenache and and cab france combined don’t come close! Cabernet sauvignon, on the other hand, is grown on nearly 80,000 acres.

“Vina Robles has wanted to do something with us for perhaps as many as 10 years,” Jo continued. “We just have to also serve our membership around the rest of the state and beyond.”

“It’s going to grow,” Jo stated, “as we take it around the state, and even out of the state.”

Buy tickets.

In anticipation of the PS I Love You event, Que Syrah Sue and I tasted two Petite Sirah made here in Ventura County; the PS from Cantara will be one of 10 available for tasting at the Saturday Feb. 6 event and Mike Brown will be presenting.

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2013 – Back Patio Cellars – Petite Sirah – $38.95 – 14.1% alcohol

While this wine by Frank and Jen Hules is made at one of the newest wineries to open in Ventura County using 80% French Oak and 20% American Oak, the fruit in this Petite Sirah comes from the west side of Paso Robles, the new Willow Creek AVA to be precise. Only 24 cases produced. Located in Camarillo on Flynn Road, the winery opened in August 2015.

This Petite Sirah is very fruit forward and blue fruit  is the first impression you get when you sip this nice but young wine. In a couple of years, this could become a cocktail wine, however, at this time it works really well with strong flavored foods like Blue Cheese with a Filet Mignon. It has a nice toffee fruit nose and a slight coffee mocha finish when paired with hard cheeses and bread. While the alcohol might seem high at 14.1%, the wine is well balanced, and does not taste hot.

I had the opportunity to taste this wine over a few days and with different foods including a filet mignon with blue cheese and a rib eye steak. As predicted, it paired well with both, and over time, the wine became more and more delightful and accessible. I finished the final glass a week after opening without doing anything except the cork and a cool place and the final glass, while different, was as good as the first glass.  While enjoyable now, I’d definitely recommend laying this wine down for a few years.

2012 – Cantara Cellars – $40.00 – 13% alcohol

Winemaker Mike Brown stated that 2012 was a cool year in Lodi weather wise so it is not as fruit forward as one might expect in a Petite Sirah; this is more characteristic of a syrah than a petite sirah, says the winemaker; expect to find blue fruits (blueberry, blackberry, plum) and white pepper in this full bodied wine. He used 70% French Oak plus 30% American Oak in this surprising PS. Mike’s Petite Sirahs consistently win awards and here’s why.

On the first day of being opened, this beautifully colored Petite Sirah had a quite a bit of barnyard funk in the nose, but that recedes leaving classic blueberry fruit pie. Not everyone might like this off the bat, but for those who like an earthy, truffley flavor, they will be in heaven, and for those who don’t, open it an hour or more before you plan to drink it. There is enough complexity and fruit in this wine to enjoy it without food but with its tannins and structure, it’s even better with food — from rich blue cheese to aged cheeses. Red meat based meals also shine but because of the earthy quality; this means it would pair well with vegetarian entrees where rich cheesy or mushroom flavors dominate.

At the end of the week, I paired the final glass with a gourmet turkey burger with blue cheese– scrumptious! At this point, the wine exhibited luscious blue fruit, baking spice, black pepper, and cigar box; I felt like I could sniff this one all day! Still plenty of tart fruit on the palate, and it is quite enjoyable without food as well as with it.

I often suspect that one day open is equal to one year in the bottle which makes me further suspect this wine would be worth laying down for at least 5 if not 10 years. While babies are sure cute, the conversation gets better when the kid gets older, yes?

This wine was provided as a sample for review consideration. Thank you Chris and Mike for sharing your wine with us!

Read more PS I Love you stories:

PS I Love You: Time for Dark and Delicious and a Glass of Rock Wall Petite Sirah!

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