Please The Palate Wine of the Week: Tres Sabores 2016 Petite Sirah Napa Valley

Petite Sirah is not a wine that I drink very often. I had a preconceived idea of what kind of wine this grape made and thought of it as a bigger, jammier wine than what I typically like. But after tasting the Tres Sabores 2016 Petite Sirah, Napa Valley, I had to change my view and that is why it is the Please The Palate wine of the week.

Petite Sirah (“Peh-teet sear-ah”) (aka Durif) was first found growing in France in the mid-1800’s. The grape is a cross between Syrah and Peloursin, a very rare grape. It was imported to America in the mid-1880s and today there are less than 10,000 acres planted in the world, with the majority of it growing in California.

Julie Johnson, owner and winemaker of Tres Sabores, a small certified organic winery located in Rutherford, bought her property in Rutherford in 1987. The property is 35-acres, of which 13 are planted to vine. The majority is planted to Zinfandel but there are a few acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah. The Petite Sirah was first planted in 1971 and Julie kept the original vines to pay homage to the grape’s history in Napa.

The Tres Sabores 2016 Petite Sirah, Napa Valley is primarily sourced from the dry-farmed estate vineyard in Rutherford that sits on the valley floor and consists of alluvial fan with rocky loam soils. There is also a small amount of Petite Sirah blended in from the Guarino Vineyard in Calistoga where the soil is almost completely of volcanic origin and ranges from gravelly loam to a heavy clay-silt soil. The grapes are picked early and are put in small hand-picked bins before going through intense sorting. All grapes are de-stemmed and then half of each bin is crushed and the other half is whole berry. After gentle pressing, the wine is put into 100% American oak, 30% of which is new, for more than 24 months.

I often think of Petite Sirah as a very deep color wine that is very full-bodied, almost jammy, with intense tannins. But the Tres Sabores 2016 Petite Sirah has a beautiful aromatic freshness with notes of dark blackberry and Marionberry as well as chocolate and cedar. The wine is lively with good acidity and smoother, more moderate tannins.

This wine can pair with a variety of proteins, including pork or a lightly grilled steak.

There are only 100 cases of the Tres Sabores 2016 Petite Sirah, Napa Valley available and sells for $45.

If you are not familiar with Petite Sirah, the Tres Sabores is a great example to introduce you to the grape.