Ask a handful of wine lovers if they have ever had a wine made from Petite Sirah and most will answer that they haven’t. This is an absolute shame, because if you’re looking for a wine that’s big, fruity, and inky colored, Petite Sirah should be on your radar. To be honest, Petite Sirah is not one of the time-honored noble grape varieties and in fact, it’s rather young. It was developed in 1880 by François Durif in his agricultural laboratory in Montpellier, France due to an accidental cross of Peloursin and Syrah. Durif took credit for the resulting grape and arrogantly named it after himself.
It’s still called Durif in France and Australia, but when it arrived in California in 1878 it was confused with Syrah and was given the nickname “Petite Syrah” because of the grape’s low yields. It was originally used to produce deeply colored juice to make fortified Port-style wines, but now it is used as a blending grape or in a single varietal still wine. Grape growers have since changed the spelling from “Syrah” to “Sirah” and wine lovers should be happy to know that the most extensive plantings of Petite Sirah are in the U.S.A. There’s even a group of winemakers in California named PS, I Love You (psiloveyou.org) that functions as a Petite Sirah advocacy organization. With California in mind, here are seven California Petite Sirahs to drink now.
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