On Wine


Did Syrah Beat Petite?


by Fred McMillin



About five centuries ago, legend tells us that the Syrah vine was carried from ancient Persia to France where it rose to fame on the Rhone.

Petite Sirah

About one century ago geneticist Prof. Francois Durif created Petite Sirah in France, where it subsequently was banned because its wine was inferior.

Today, Syrah is the hot-button red of the USA, often outselling Merot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Meanwhile, the Petite Sirah found a friendly home in California. For example, Ms. Jo Diaz' Petite advocacy group (PS I Love You) lists 332 producers. So, which grape produces the better wine in California today? Here are the top eight of a large tasting:

On Wine: Rankings
Very Good
8th Petite Bogle Vineyards, California, 2005, $11
7th Petite EOS Estate Winery, Paso Robles, 2005, $18
6th Syrah Sobon Estate, Amador County, 2005, $16
5th Petite Silkwood Wines, Stanislaus County, 2004, $39
4th Petite Mounts Winery, Sonoma County, 2006, $32
Super (3-way tie)
1st Syrah Reserve Adelaida Cellars, Paso Robles, 2003, $55
1st Syrah J.Phelps Vineyards, Napa Valley, 2005, $45
1st Petite Silkwood Vineyards, San Joaquin County, 2004, $39


Syrah Won—Two of the three top wines were Syrah.

Petite Won—Five of the top eight were Petite Sirah.

We conclude that Prof. Durif's Petite barely won. Try 'em both.


And a Final Gourmet Grin

When our son was a vigorous 15-year-old, I was surprised that on his own he bought his mom a beautiful Mother's Day card with a very nice sentiment on the front. The message inside said, "What's for lunch?"


Credits: Edgar Vogt
Statistics: Ophie Mercado


Fred McMillin

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He was voted one of the U.S.A's 22 Best wine writers by the Academy of Wine Communications. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.


Copyright © 2009, Fred McMillin. All rights reserved.


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This page created January 2009

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