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Blind Tasting of California Petite Sirahs

2009 March 5
by Eric Hwang

20090408
Last night my wine group did a blind tasting of California Petite Syrahs consisting of five Ridge wines and two others. After our group’s careful ranking and scoring methodology, here are the group rankings and my tasting notes for each:

No. 1
30 pts
20090413 1996 Ridge, Sonoma, Geyserville Vineyard – Color was an almost brown shade of deep garnet, bouquet of earth, blackberry and some brett. Tastes of raspberry, ripe cherry wih subtle tannins and a long finish.
No. 2
35 pts
20090411 1989 Ridge, Napa, York Creek Vineyard, Devil’s Hill – Med. garnet colored with nose of cassis, earth, musk and oak. Taste of blackberry with good body but lacking in acid. Med. finish.
No. 3
36 pts
20090415 1998 J.C. Cellars, Napa – Ruby purple in color with a sharp aromatic nose of acetone, fresh strawberry and jam. Acidic tastes of strawberry and raspberry but lacking in tannins to balance the acids. Med. finish.
No. 4
38 pts
20090409 1990 Foppiano, Sonoma – Deep Garnet with brown edges, bouquet of chocolate, earth and raspberry. Slight VA upon first smelling it. Balanced structure with flavors of raspberry and blackberry with a long finish.
No. 5
43 pts
20090410 1987 Ridge, Napa, York Creek Vineyard, Devil’s Hill – Dark garnet red color with nose of cassis and oak. Very tannic and viscous with taste of black olive, plum and jam. Somewhat flat with a short finish.
No. 6
46 pts
20090412 1999 Ridge, Napa, York Creek Vineyard, Dynamite Hill – Med. garnet color with fresh fruity aromas combined with saddle leather. Tastes of cherry and red fruits with good structure, viscosity and a long finish.  (My no. 1)
No. 7
52 pts
20090414 1988 Ridge, Napa, York Creek Vineyard, Devil’s HIll – Med. garnet color with some TCA aromas that peaked and finally disapated to reveal a bouquet of blackberry and barnyard.  Tastes of red berrys with nice body and good acid balance. (My no. 2 despite the TCA)

You’ll notice that many of the scores are different by just a couple points indicating how close in rank they were. In a tasting of this quality, it’s hard to have a very definitive winner since all the wines were really good, even the tainted one.

One interesting observation: if you like your Petite Sirah to be fruitier and just a touch sweet, you may want to look into the new vintages made in the New World bolder style. Most of these older Petites were made in a more elegant Old-world style which develops with many years of cellaring.

Copyright © 2009, Eric Hwang and BricksOfWine. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eric Hwang and BricksOfWine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. March 5, 2009

    Very cool. Wish we could get all those in Houston at one place. I can usually find Ridge, but rarely Petite Syrahs.

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