Continuing our celebration of California Wine Month, Sue and I decided to compare and contrast two wines from Rock Wall Wine Company, both Petite Sirah: 2014 from Sonoma (SRP $35 on sale now for $28) and Napa (SRP $60). We tasted them as a TGIF and paired them with happy hour fare, and then later my husband grilled up a filet mignon with blue cheese for me. What a great way to end the work week!
Petite Sirah is not really the first wine you’d think of for a happy hour or cocktail wine. It can be a big tannic monster that demands fatty rich food. But both of these were balanced, rich, and satisfying. They made us very happy.
Once again, this is a fun way to taste wine: choose two similar wines but from different regions, gather a few friends, put a plate of food together, and compare them to test your palate. It will certainly get your mind off of work and keep you from rehashing that onerous event that haunts you!
2014 – Jack’s Petite Sirah – 14.8% – $35
We went for the younger, less expensive wine first. Jack’s Petite Sirah is name for Jack Florence; he planted the vines in rocky riverbed soil in northern Dry Creek Valley just below the Rockville appellation 14 years ago using a clone from the old Seghesio ranch.
And wow did we taste the minerality from those rocky soils!
Color – very pretty, dense, inky, purple, amethyst.
Nose – a bit of alcohol when first opened up that should dissipate with decanting or sitting open for a bit, raspberry and blackberry, spice, and sweet tobacco cigar box.
Palate -seeds and stems and dirt – seems like whole cluster almost chewy, nice density and complexity. Lots of minerals, dynamic, not that heavy like petite can be at times.
Surprisingly, the wine went great with our goat cheese sundries tomato on fresh herbed toast, the tanginess in the goat cheese mellows out the acidity, and produces a wonderful creaminess in your mouth so that the lovely fruit flavors come to the forefront: mostly bramble berry but also blueberry and plum. It was also great with our salt cured black olives.
The 30% new French and American oak with 70% neutral oak provided just enough to tame the beast and bring in the bramble berry fruit.
This wine really likes a big bulbous bordeaux glass: it brings out more fruit and lovely fruit aroma. A petite sirah glass brings forth more minerals and acidity and it might be too austere. We both preferred the Bordeaux glass.
A very nice wine for the price, super enjoyable and really food friendly.
This wine was provided as a sample for our review consideration. Thank you Jo Diaz and Diaz Communications.
2012 – Le Mur De Roche – Carver Sutor Vineyard – 16.3% alcohol – $60
It’s not every day that you get the chance to enjoy and appreciate a Petite Sirah made from vines that over 100 years old — much less vines that were planted in 1902 by Domenico Barbers and his fiancé Gilda Stella, who planted the vineyard for their wedding. They lived and farmed it for 90 years until Denis Carver and Anne Sutra took it under their wings. Located . Located in a small riparian area northeast of Calistoga aptly named Paradise Valley, the east side of Block 11, from which this wine is made,grows in loamy soil and is all head pruned.
Just as you can taste the stone in the Jack’s, in this wine you can inhale and then experience the rich loamy earth.
Seriously, these wines express the terroir so clearly that it makes them a great teaching tool for someone who wants to test the palate.
Color – dense and opaque purple
Nose – intense blue fruit on the nose, fruity and rich, like blueberry cheesecake or blueberry pie, alcohol comes out with a bordeaux glass, but in a Petite Sirah, the alcohol is not at all prevalent.
Palate – blue fruit also in the mouth. blueberry yum yum. stands up to the goat cheese and sun dried tomato crostini. It makes a creamy gorgonzola cheese really intense and brings out the blue fruit, makes the wine very mellow and smooth. very very mellow. For a fabulous finale (dessert) take a bit of blueberry crusted goat cheese, and some great basin nuts, and serve it with this wine. This wine is extremely satisfying, rewarding, it leaves you in a very happy place.
You think that if you are going to have a big deal wine, you have to have a big deal dinner, but that is not the case. You can enjoy a big deal wine, with a appetizer happy hour with a special friend or friends, and it is a lovely experience.
This wine could lay down a bit longer but right now? In the words of the winery:
“Dude. OMG. This delectable wine exhibits blackberry liqueur, creme brûlée, coconut cream pie, black tea, orange zest and French vanilla. Patience truly pays off.”
The wine is made by Shauna Rosenblum — yes that Rosenblum family name can help you and your dad (Kent Rosenblum CEO of Rock Wall Wine Company) get some of the best grapes that are out there which these two petite sirah show.
While Shauma was raised in the family business (Rosenblum Winery which her dad founded and grew to some 250k cases before he sold it), she pursued the arts and earned an MFA: Shauna has a Master’s degree in Sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute and did her undergrad at California College of Arts and Crafts where she became very interested in chemistry through the ceramics glaze making process. If you know anything about ceramics perhaps it is that there’s a lot of chemistry involved in creating the glazes which I am sure came in handy as a winemaker. Making wine and ceramics are both hands-on which I am sure she benefits from. Shauna saw these similarities which led to her epiphany that winemaking is art! Shauna also completed the Master’s Executive Winemaking Program at UC Davis.