100% Petite Sirah (sometimes written as Petit Syrah, although it refers to the same grape).
- Petite Sirah is a wine you can’t take lightly. You to be in the mood for it. That’s because Petite Sirah typically has about as much subtlety and restraint as being awoken in the morning to a 300lb man in a dark purple suit, jumping up-and-down on your bed, singing Bohemian Rhapsody, while he simultaneously throws plums, blackberries and bars of dark chocolate at your head.
- The Ramsay label was launched in 1989 by winemaking couple Kent and Celia Rasmussen. “Ramsay” comes from Celia’s maiden name. The wine – which also includes a Cabernet and a Merlot – serves as a second label to their Kent Rasmussen range.
- The Petite Sirah grape (known in France as Durif) was discovered by French botanist Francois Durif in 1880. Strange co-incidence? Nope. He did the exact same thing you would do if you discovered a grape, and named it after himself! The grape is a cross between Syrah and the relatively unknown variety of Peloursin and was introduced to California around 1884
- The Petite Sirah grape has almost completely disappeared from France, but sees a increasing amount of acreage in North America (it has more than doubled since 2000), as well as sporadic plantings in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Israel.
- In 2004, Petite Sirah producers banded together and created the P.S. I Love You organization, as a way to raise awareness for the grape. As with all these types of ideas: they’re good in theory, but in practice they usually lose steam after a short while (much in the same was as the Cal-Ital Consorzio). Jo Diaz does a good job in maintaining the site, but more PS producers need to get behind her efforts. I hadn’t even heard about the “movement” until I researched this article!
- The North Coast region covers everything (that you see on the map to the left) north of San Francisco, and most of Marin County and Solano counties.
- The North Coast AVA covers around 3 million acres (46,900 sq miles). Due to the size of the region, just about every grape variety that grows in California grows in the North Coast region.
- The North Coast region has the grape-growing advantage of being cooler than the rest of California (as in temperature…not as in Fonzie), as it’s significantly influenced by coastal breezes and fog rolling in off the Pacific.
- Concannon Vineyards was the first winery in California (in the 1960’s) to bottle Petite Sirah with the full name of the grape on the front label.
- North Coast AVA is home to over 800 wineries, nearly half of the total wineries in the state of California.
A straight-forward and varietally-correct PS with plenty of grip and a deep-dark pigment. Shows tons of stewed plum and blackberry, skewing towards red fruit on the mid-palate. Bitter dark chocolate, campfire smoke, black pepper, dry leaves and earth. Expect to have purple teeth for the rest of the evening after just a sip of the Ramsay!
Pair it as you would with a red from the Rhone region of France i.e. Sausage, BBQ, pot roast, duck with a red fruit reduction, game, smoked meats, eggplant etc.