A First Rate Petite Sirah!

Since my son Greg just posted a bit about BBQ Pork Spare Ribs, let me post a bit about Petite Sirah – a perfect pairing for that dish:


Petite Sirah is one of those wine grapes (including Zinfandel and Malbec) that do better in their adopted country than their place of origin.  It thrives in California where it always seems to offer, at the very least, entirely pleasant drinking.  The Bogle Petite Sirah, for example, is one of the best wine bargains in the state, year after year, and for less than nine bucks a bottle, too.  If, for example, you’re having a 200-guest wedding reception for your daughter, and you don’t want to dismay either those guests or your accountant, that Bogle Petite Sirah is always the way to go.

Interesting thing … back in the late 1950’s, Gallo’s famous (infamous?) Hearty Burgundy always seemed to me, well, unusually hearty.  It was only many years later when I discovered that the Hearty Burgundy of those days contained a major quotient of Petite Sirah.  That, alas, is no longer true.

Every now and then, however, one encounters a Petite Sirah of genuine stature … a really serious and utterly delicious red wine.  As an example, I’d like to suggest the Four Vines “Skeptic” 2011 bottling.  The Wine Spectator has always had a good-natured respect for Petite Sirah, but I never saw it go so far as to award one a score in the 90’s.  Then came the Four Vines version, which earned a rating of 92.  It’s absolutely compelling and worth every one of its points.  I picked up a couple of bottles at one of BevMo’s 5¢ sales … a great deal, because BevMo wants $25 per bottle for the Four Vines, but buying two bottles and taking advance of that 5¢ deal cuts the price to $12.50.  Whether or not BevMo still has that “Skeptic” Four Vines Petite Sirah still in stock I don’t know, but, believe me, it’s worth the search.


Wines Can Be Welcome Guests

My wife and I were having dinner with good friends last night, and I served them a Gascon Reserve Malbec, 2010 from Argentina, imported by Gallo.  The Gascon part is easy enough to find, even at your local grocery store, but the “reserve” bottling will make a difficult search for anyone, and deservedly so: it’s a delicious quaff by any standards.  Malbec itself comes from the Cahors region of France, just a little southeast of Bordeaux.  Sometime in the 1850’s, and prior to the phylloxera plague that devastated so many French vineyards, Malbec cuttings somehow made their way to Argentina.  Some have suggested that the pre-phylloxera part of the story explains why Malbecs from Argentina taste so much better than their French counterparts.  It is theorized that the Malbec vines which replaced the phylloxera-destroyed originals never again achieved the former glory of their French predecessors.  Well, I’ve never tasted a 19th century Malbec, but I can certainly attest to the superiority of their now widely available Argentine offspring.

Gascon Reserva Malbec

Gascon Reserva Malbec

While we’re on the subject of wines that somehow do better in their host countries than in their original homes, think of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah … and, if this kind of thing interests you, have you ever looked at Jancis Robinson’s (et al.) rather new book, titled Wine Grapes?  It’s nothing short of both glorious and magisterial!


Wine Grapes – a terrific book!