I have never had much Petite Sirah. I have enjoyed many Syrahs and the beautiful wines from the French Rhone Valley area.

But I bought a bottle of 2005 Guenoc Petite Sirah (Lake County) Saturday at the Bottle Shop in Lafayette for a reasonable $12.99. I did find the wine online for anywhere from $10-$14.

It has the fruit-forward taste of Syrah, a nice but perhaps restrained nose, and very nice but not over-powering tannins. Petite Sirahs are usually anything but – usually they are really big, dark wines. This certainly had a bigger fruit flavor at the front of the palate than all the Malbecs I’ve been drinking lately, but not as big as many other Syrahs I have enjoyed. It did go down smooth and enjoyable.

Some Syrah and Petite Sirah can be real fruit bombs – a big ol mouthful of wine the minute it hits your mouth. This one wasn’t that, but a nice bottle at the price point.

Sometimes you have a “funky” mid-palate quality to wines. I’ve never found the right words to describe that until opening this bottle. While doing a little online research, I read a review that called the finish a little “dusty.” While that may sound a little odd, it seems accurate to me.

And for the newbies, Syrah and Petite Sirah are two totally different grapes. Petite Sirah has been grown in California for several decades. The big ones will really hit you as a fruit bomb with a big peppery finish. This wine had those characteristics in a more subdued fashion.

I had the wine this evening with a turkey loaf. I think it would do fine against burgers, and simple meat dishes. It might be big enough against a steak, but not for me.

The one thing about this wine is that it makes me want to explore more Petite Syrah. I have decided its time to emerge from my Malbec love affair and get back to exploring different wines.

Oh and one more note, and Lake County is nestled at the north end of its better known cousins Sonoma and Napa.

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com

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