As you can imagine, we field a lot of questions at our Tasting Room counters. Among the most asked ones are, “What’s your favorite wine?”, “What’s your best-seller?”, “Where is the restroom?” and – lately – “Is Petite Sirah the same as Syrah?”. To the latter we say, “Not quite.”
Syrah, Petite Sirah, Shiraz… they sound similar enough. Syrah and Shiraz are made from the same dark-skinned grape, but where they are produced gives them different characteristics. Syrah originally hails from the Rhone region of France and produces more earthy flavors. The same grape grown in Australia and South Africa will almost always be called Shiraz, and is more fruit-forward than its French brother. Petite Sirah, however, is in a category of its own.
Petite Sirah is related to Syrah but will produce a very different kind of wine. This varietal was the result of cross-pollination between Syrah and Peloursin (a red French grape), and is also known as “Durif.” While the successful experiment was done in France, the grape never grew well there. Fortunately, it thrives in the climate of Southern California. Syrah and Shiraz are big and bold, but Petite Sirah is generally bigger and bolder.
Ponte’s 2013 Petite Sirah is perfect for any big red wine lover. The wine is dark as ink, rich, robust and intensely fruity. It is full-bodied with plum, molasses and vanilla oak flavors, plus plenty of tannin on the finish. Consider equally bold foods as its best pairing partners: steak, lamb, strong cheeses and roasts.