At first glance in the decanter, the over-saturation of color and the note on the bottle saying that the grapes are grown in the warmest districts of Paso Robles produced a minor sensation of panic wondering if my choice of J Lohr Tower Road Petite Sirah would prove to be an over-the-top fruit bomb. As is the case with most worries, they were a misuse of my imagination.
Petite Sirah is generally known as Durif outside the Americas. It was named after its discoverer, Dr. Francois Durif, who, in 1880, noticed a cross-pollination with Peloursin vines. More than a century later, in 1996, Durif’s other parent, Syrah, was identified. “Petite” refers to the small, intensely colored berries on the grapevine. In its early history, Durif was generally a blending grape, adding small amounts to bolster color and structure. As a standalone varietal, Petite Sirah is most notable in the U.S. with a bit of a following in Australia.
There is gorgeous color in this dense burgundy-hued Petite Sirah. Aromas of vanilla and berries waft from the glass and fill my nostrils. Have you ever noticed that the tension in your face relaxes as you inhale in your wine glass? On the palate are chocolate-covered raisins, blackberry, blueberry, and vanilla. Fruit flavors are balanced by acidity creating a full body that isn’t overly muscular. Tannins are most notable on the finish. By the second glass, the rest of me has relaxed as well.
A bottle of wine is the perfect amount to be shared by two people. I first heard this said by Arthur Schwartz, the self-described food maven on WOR radio in New York. When I notice drinkers over-indulging (including myself on occasion), I remind myself of Mr. Schwartz’s wise words. His observation implies that the experience should be a communal one where the wine is savored as it greases the wheels for deeper communication. (Not a tool for numbing our minds and emotions, and unintentionally bringing out the worst in us.) Perhaps if we all find a friend with whom to share a bottle of wine, the world will become a nicer place to live (and drink) in!