Petite Sirah Preferences

This week I tasted the oldest petite sirah label in California and one of the newest.

Both wines were made in Alameda County from grapes grown in other areas — the Central Coast and Spring Mountain in Sonoma.

The Concannon Vineyard 2009 is the latest offering from the first winery in the country to free petite sirah from its role as a blending grape and bottle it as a varietal.

The Livermore winery, founded by Irishman James Concannon in 1883, first put petite sirah on the label 50 years ago. The winery has branched out, in the meantime, boosting production from its estate vineyards to include bottlings from the Central Coast.

The 2009, which I bought on sale at Lucky for $6.99, is a blend of grapes from various Central Coast vineyards.

It’s got the peppery bite that P.S. lovers adore and a good tannic structure that held up well against a broiled rib eye steak.

This wine isn’t all swagger. There’s some oak and a nice vein of blackberry fruit alongside those tannins.

Concannon makes a number of more sophisticated petite sirah wines, but if you’re looking for a low-cost red that meets a high quality mark, look no further.

The winery will be hosting a special 50th anniversary tasting of its petite sirah wines next weekend (Aug. 13-14).

Carica Wines

The 2008 is the first ever petite sirah from Carica Wines, a small family-run operation headed by Charlie Dollbaum, a physician from Oakland who makes his wines at Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda.

Charlie and Helen Dollbaum

I met Dollbaum and his daughter, Helen, at a Rock Wall tasting earlier this week when they poured his petite sirah along with a syrah and a grenache-syrah-mourvedre blend plus a rose of grenache and two sauvignon blancs.

For me, the reds stood out.

The petite sirah ($36) from Kick Ranch in Sonoma was a sophisticated bruiser.

The color is dark ink with the characteristic pepperiness on the approach.

It’s a bit hesitant on the nose, spicy plum, but the blackberry fruit goes on and on and on for a full minute. Delightful!

I also enjoyed the 2008 blend, Siren, which is Carica’s take on a Rhone-style wine with a majority of the blend coming from three different syrah clones grown by Kick Ranch. The grenache is also from Kick but the mourvedre came from Lake County.

This is a harmonic mix of creamy crimson-hued goodness in a $32 bottle. The finish is smooth and juicy with a broad swath of plum fruit.

Carica Wines will be featured at the Urban Wine Experience, a gathering sponsored by the East Bay Vintner’s Alliance at Jack London Pavilion in Oakland on Saturday (Aug. 6) from 2-5 p.m..

Later this month, Carica wines will be poured alongside hundreds of other family made wines at the Family Winemakers of California annual tasting event at Fort Mason (Sunday, Aug. 21).


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