There used to be a program on public radio called Desert Island Discs, where the host would interview various celebrities and ask them to come up with a list of the 10 recordings they would take along to their desert island. If I had to, similarly, chose only one wine I could buy from this point forth this might be the one.
We’ve visited Glen Ellen before (the Old Vine Zinfandel I liked, and their Chardonnay I did not). They are the low priced label of Concannon, a Livermore Valley California winery that claims to be the first to offer Petite Sirah as a varietal. And we’ve already covered the identity crisis of Petite Sirah (see “Petite Sirah-the Labradoodle of wine”). Suffice it to say, in review, that it is not the same as Sirah (or Syrah or Shiraz) as is often incorrectly assumed, or even somehow smaller, baby, or miniature Sirah.
Last post, I mentioned a friend’s coffee analogy to wine. It comes to mind here, again. This wine will appeal to those that like a big, strong, full bodied wine-like a dark roast Seattle coffee served black. If you’re a two cream, two sugars kind of person, this probably will not appeal. I like Maduro wrapper cigars, the darkest boldest kind, stronger, fuller coffee, and red wines that aren’t shy about their tannins. The character of a red wine has a lot to do with the juice’s contact with the skins during production. Petite Sirah has more skin relative to “guts”, since they are smaller grapes, and so have more of what makes a big wine big.
I’ve had Glen Ellen Petite Sirah many times over the last few months, since it is one The Store puts on sale often. It’s regularly $12 for a 1.5 liter bottle, but is frequently featured for $7.00. Those periods, when it’s $7, it becomes our “house wine”.
One asterisk, though, should be noted. This is a wine that benefits greatly by allowing it to settle a little before drinking. When the cork is first yanked, it has a strong “alcoholy” smell. It’s like the molecules are P.O.’d at being trapped in the bottle, and they get a little over enthusiastic when first released. Either decant it (I suggest buying a $3 bottle of Paul Masson Chablis in the “coin jar” bottle, pour the contents into a flower bed, and use the bottle as a decanter) or just pour a glass and take the dog out to pee pee before you drink it. It settles down completely (the wine, not the dog) into dark, fruity loveliness.