Before I encountered Petite Sirah from Arizona, I admit, I wasn’t particularly fond of this grape. And even so, it’s been a bit of a struggle to convince me that it works well. But I’ve slowly been coming around. Yes, there are some sites, and some winemakers, that decidedly do Petit Sirah better than others, but overall, Arizona Petit Sirah is a satisfying experience.
One of the largest producers for this grape, in terms of case numbers, is Page Springs Cellars, who grow Petite Sirah in the Verde Valley, as well as having historically sourced this grape from what is now Al Buhl Memorial Vineyard. The 2011 Estate Petite Sirah is the oldest wine from this grape I have in my stash currently; I felt someone should see how well this grape ages here.
At the edges of the lost Pedregosa Sea the 2011 Estate Petit Sirah awaits…
The Wine: The 2011 Estate Petite Sirah is sourced from the estate vineyards of Page Springs Cellars, rather than their House Mountain vineyard which also has plantings of Petit Sirah. These vineyard blocks are planted on alluvial fill from Oak Creek, rather than the volcanic deposits and limestones of the House Mountain block. These vines were grown from cuttings which came from Shell Creek Vineyard, located near Paso Robles. I am unsure what oaking regimen this wine went through. Knowing Glomski’s palate, however, mostly neutral French oak is a safe bet. The wine is the dark, brooding color we all have come to know and love from Petite Sirah.
The Nose: This wine seems more delicate and nuanced than some other vintages I’ve had of this grape, even within Arizona. The wine opens with the notes I generally associate with this grape here: bergamot, black tea, plums, cassis, and cherries, but off the bat, I detect more delicate notes of rose petals, sagebrush, butterscotch, and creosote. The nose of this wine does not change appreciably as it opens up.
The Palate: Cherries, black currants, black tea, and plum form the opening salvo for the 2011 Estate Petite Sirah. These notes intermingle with more subtle flavors of anise, sage, violets, rose, earth, and soft leathery tannins–think well-worn glove, rather than a new jacket. The acidity in this vintage has held up pretty well. While full-bodied, this wine is again, more elegant than most California expressions of this varietal. There are still some tannins left. The finish of this wine lasts for 1 minute and 11 seconds, and is filled with notes of earth, cherry, and creosote.
The Pairing: Pair this wine with Venison ribs, with a side of baked russet and sweet potatoes and nopales with an olive oil and prickly pear vinaigrette. For a vegan or vegetarian pairing, use a savory mushroom and pepper dish as your centerpiece, along with the russet potatoes and nopales.
Impression: As Glomski mentions on the label for this wine, Petite Sirah is often seen as a one-trick pony. While he singles this vintage out in particular as an anomaly when compared to California wines made from this grape, I really think that it may be said that Arizona Petit Sirah is a more varied, delicate and nuanced animal than the hulking sauropod-style, super-oaky behemoths coming from California. Yes, they are still big, and tannic, but they don’t smash their way onto your palate. The 2011 Estate Petite Sirah is a good example of this.
Furthermore, the more Arizona Petite Sirah I taste, the more I’m convinced that this varietal does better here in the Verde Valley than in Willcox. Overall, I’ve noticed that, as far as my palate is concerned, the vintages produced here do tend to have a lot more nuance and subtlety than those in Willcox–or perhaps it’s just that the vintages I’ve experienced here in the Verde Valley are older, and therefore, have had more time to gain complexity. More research is needed.
Lurking in the red rocks…
As for the personification, the 2011 Estate Petite Sirah is a paleontologist who spends most of their time in the summer in the field, excavating giant sauropods from the Utah badlands, with dust in his beard. His thesis was discussing the evolutionary history of these ancient giants. He’s also become an expert in making odd culinary masterpieces with the very limited ingredients he has while in the field.