Basics: California’s Central Coast Is Petite Sirah’s New Champion | Wine Enthusiast
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Petite Sirah

About Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah is a rich grape created by French botanist Dr. Francois Durif in 1880. This rare grape boasts somewhere around 10,000 acres of planted vine around the world, with the majority of the acreage in California, a climate well suited to this sun-loving variety. The grape was planted at California’s Mission San José in 1884. California Petite Sirah is bold and assertive, and often made into single-variety bottlings, although it can benefit from blending as well.

In the vineyard, these technically red grapes are thick-skinned and so dark they appear black. Wines, which are deep purple in color, are nearly opaque in youth, owing to the grapes’ skins.

Often confused with another native French variety, Syrah, Petite Sirah is believed to be the result of cross-pollination of Syrah and obscure Peloursin. Petite Sirah is called “petite” because it produces small berries on the vine. The grape thrives in hot, dry climates, since rainy environments promote rot between the tightly packed fruit. It has been most successful in dry California, although it has had some success, too, in Australia and South America.

On the palate, Petite Sirah’s inky wines give way to bold, dark fruit, like blueberries, blackberries and stewed plums. These round, tannic wines have a somewhat short finish, which makes them good candidates for blending. They can age for upwards of 20 years. Currently, Petite Sirah is grown predominantly in California, as well as in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and Israel.

Synonyms: Durif

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