The variety known in California as Petite Sirah has its origins in France where it is called Durif. It was named after Dr. Durif who propagated it from a cross of Peloursin and Syrah in 1880. Only in the U.S. is the variety called Petite Sirah – elsewhere in the world it is called by its correct and original name Durif. Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard has worked with this variety since 1977.
The grapes for this wine come from the relatively new appellation of San Antonio Valley in southwestern Monterey County. This high valley, west of Highway 101 is well suited to slightly warmer climate grape varieties. The block that these grapes come from is on top of a well-drained, shale covered hill.
We are using a relatively new approach in fermenting our Petite Sirah. The variety is famous for over-extracting tannins, often making wines of great fruit intensity, but commonly having a lot of astringency. Starting in 2005 we went to a method of whole berry fermentation of our Petite Sirah and we are very excited about the results.
When the grapes are processed they are only de-stemmed, not crushed at all. We de-stem them into small, one ton lot, fermentation bins. By not crushing the berries we release fewer of the harsh tannins during fermentation.
This release has a lot of wild berry fruit character along with smoky, peppery spiciness and some tannins at this young age.
This is a wine to enjoy with hearty comfort foods like stews, roasts and rich pasta sauces. We suggest giving it some time in a decanter to wake up everything lurking inside, or cellar it for a few more years.