On Wine


Did Petite Sirah Beat Syrah?

Petite Sirah

by Fred McMillin


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, Petite Sirah has found a friendly home in California. For example, Ms. Jo Diaz' Petite advocacy group (PS I Love You) lists 332 producers. So, thus Petite produce the better wine in California today?


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

Here are the top nine of a large tasting:

On Wine: Petite Sirah Vs. Syrah
Petite Sirah Vs. Syrah
Rank Wine Label
9th Petite Concannon Vineyards, Livermore Valley, 2008, $15
8th Syrah Robert Mondavi—Private Selection, California, 2008, $11
7th Petite Proprietors Reserve, Glen Ellen, California, 2007, $10/1.5liter
6th Petite Vintners Blend, Ravenswood, California, 2008, $10
5th Petite Sunset Cellars, Dry Creek Valley, 2004, $30
4th Syrah Sunset Cellars, Solano County, 2007, $18
3rd Syrah Cakebread Cellars, Napa Valley, 2007, $50
2nd Syrah Rosenblum Cellars, Lake County, 2006, $25
1st Petite Ballentine Vineyards, Napa Valley, 2007, $24


Petite won—five of the top nine were Petite Sirah. Prof. Durif's Petite barely won. Try 'em both.


And a Final Wine Smile

When the great Julia Child was asked what was her favorite wine, she replied, "Gin."


Tastings: Edgar Vogt
Statistics: Ophie Mercado


Fred McMillin

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for over 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 © 2011, Fred McMillin. All rights reserved.

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This page created January 2011