2013 Petite Sirah
Petite sirah has a long and storied history here in California where it has contributed color and structure to many of the original California wines (and the Pioneer Cuvée). Grown in the right place it transcends a tendency towards a chunky and tannic wine to make one that is truly special and particularly long lived. It has an interesting history, discovered as a natural cross of Syrah and Peloursin by Francois Durif in the 1860’s in his quest to find a vine with resistance to mildew. Despite this positive trait it has compact and dense bunches and is prone to rot in rainy places and was banned in France but this isn’t an issue in California.
In 2013 I found that it isn’t just a matter of being in the right place, but also being there at the right time. I have worked with Dick Keenan’s Kick Ranch since 2007 and have admired its Upper Vineyard of Petite sirah which was under contract with a famous Napa producer. The vines have better sun exposure and the weaker soils tend to curb the vigor of Petite which can set very big crops. My own rows of Petite at Kick Ranch (before grafting some here at the estate for the ’14 wines) were in a good location, but not as favorable, and were featured in last year’s 2012 Petite release. As luck would have it, I was in the vineyard when this upper section was being picked and a few tons became available and I quickly traded up to this block. Its smaller berries and naturally smaller yields have produced a richly fruited and more elegant wine than last year’s release. I have again added a small component of Kick Ranch Syrah to flesh out the middle palate but this is still a wine to enjoy in winter with its heartier fare. I would imagine this wine will continue to improve in bottle for another 10 years.