For those of you interested in Petite Sirah, there is a wonderful article that was just written by Laurie Daniels for the Bay Area News Group (it ran in, among other publications, the San Jose Mercury News and The Contra Costa Times). In her article, Daniels covers a lot of historical ground about this unjustifiably oft-overlooked varietal; tracing its roots from hybridized Syrah and Peloursin (to become Durif), to its slow rise to prominence in North America via a small but ever-expanding cadre of California loyalists. She notes the formation of P.S. I Love You, a Petite Sirah advocacy group of which we are a proud member (check out the new social network portion of their website here!), and documents the 7th Annual Petite Sirah Symposium tasting that was hosted by P.S. I Love You recently at Concannon Vineyards.
I am particularly happy to see Laurie Daniel’s recounting of her experiences with the Symposium tasting, because it appears she is quite a fan of one of our Petite Sirah offerings; our Dynamite Hill Petite Sirah. She writes that it was a “standout in the tasting.”
Personally, I couldn’t agree more when it comes to praising the 2004 Ridge Vineyards Dynamite Hill Petite Sirah; much has been said and written over the years about the somewhat perplexing inapproachability of a great many solo-varietal Petite Sirahs, and while the very characteristics that often pose challenges to the uninitiated (deep, dark, inky hues; rich, dense, concentrated lo-tone dark fruit notes; chalky, near-granular, lip-to-tooth adhesive tannins) are the very same traits that drive its devotees wild, approachability remains a key factor in the potential success and embracing of this singular varietal. Which is why I find the Dynamite Hill both a delicious, and important, contribution to the Petite Sirah canon. Without sacrificing any of the key architectural components of varietally-appropriate Petite Sirah, the Dynamite Hill manages to be that much more supple, that much less muscular, that much more aromatically complex, that much less mouth-coating, making for, in the end, both a wonderful point-of-entry into the world of Petite Sirah, and a sophisticated, delicious end-destination as well.
To my mind, the secret of its success in no small part lies in the methodogical attention to detail deployed by our winemakers in crafting this wine. Take a look at Paul Draper and Eric Baugher’s descriptions of how this wine was brought to bottle, and I believe you’ll see just how carefully and meticulously this wine is crafted:
2004 Petite Sirah Dynamite Hill
bottled August 2006
100% Petite Sirah
An early start to the growing season ripened the petite sirah at York Creek several weeks early. Dynamite Hill was harvested within two days, and the grapes destemmed, but not crushed. When berries remain whole in the fermentor, the seeds-which provide roughly ninety percent of tannins-are encased in skin and pulp, so extract more slowly. Limiting circulation of juice over the cap also helped moderate (to a degree) the structure of this classic petite sirah. After a natural (uninoculated) primary and secondary fermentation, a small amount of the first press was added, and the wine racked to air-dried american oak barrels for twenty-two months of aging. A third of the barrels were new, and two-thirds four years old. (The sheer size of the wine demanded a higher percentage of new wood.) Deep, dark, and complex, the exceptional 2004 Dynamite Hill will benefit from five to ten years of bottle age. EB/PD (4/06)
I apologize if I appear to be on the stump here, but I really believe in this wine, and in this varietal, and I’m happy to see it getting its due, inch by inch, row by row. Thanks to Laurie Daniels for highlighting this unique varietal, thanks to P.S. I Love You for its tireless support of, and advocacy for, this unique varietal, thanks to all the producers out there crafting wonderful wines from this unique varietal, and thanks to my own hometown heroes Ridge for making the Dynamite Hill Petite Sirah!
Should you be interested to find out more about the 2004 Ridge Vineyards Dynamite Hill Petite Sirah, please click here.