I don't know about you, but I was getting pretty bored with that background stuff! I still want to finish it though, but I think I'll just intersperse it in amongst the fun stuff :-)
So tonight's bottle was a 2004 Petite Sirah from Bogle Vineyards in Clarksburg, CA. If you've ever had a wine made from Syrah before (or Shiraz as the Aussies call it - it's the same grape), you may be thinking "OK, this must be some strange "small" form of Syrah". Actually, Petite Sirah (note the "i" in Sirah, and not the "y") is a different grape altogether. It seems likely that "Petite Sirah" is actually the grape "Durif", which was itself a cross between Syrah and another grape. So although Syrah and Petite Sirah may sound similar, they taste completely different!
The first thing you'll notice about Petite Sirah when you pour it is that it's dark - really, really dark. It's almost impossible to write about a Petite Sirah without using the term "inky" - for something this slippery and opaque, no other adjective quite works. That's actually why we chose a Petite Sirah for tonight - the skies were dripping, dark and dreary, the wind was screaming past the house, and you just wanted a wine you could wrap yourself up in like a nice warm blanket. Petite Sirah can do that.
The 2004 Bogle Petite Sirah had a nose of cherries and dark berries - blackberries maybe. Upon tasting there was a distinct "jamminess" that I find pretty indicative of California Petite Sirahs. The wine was big yet smooth, with plenty of fruit and oak. It had a fair amount of tannins (also a Petite Sirah trait) that in this case unfortunately weren't in balance with the rest of the wine. This may mean that the wine could benefit from cellaring for a while, mellow those tannins out and soften it up.
We bought this wine for $11 at World Market, which can be a surprisingly good place to pick up wine at a decent price. The selection is really the biggest drawback, but it's definitely large enough to keep you occupied for a while!
Other people may do this too, but we think we came up with a particularly clever way to keep track of how much a wine costs and where we bought it - we simply write it onto the back label, usually near the bar code, with a fine point sharpie (the WM in this case is for "World Market"). It's small enough that guests probably won't notice it if it's sitting on the table, but quite helpful if you're pulling out a "second bottle" and know that your guests won't appreciate a $20 bottle at this point.
The final word on the 2004 Bogle Petite Sirah is that it served its purpose well - we were in a lazy mood and just had a Boboli pizza for dinner so no need for a fancy wine pairing, and this thick, juicy wine was great for after-work pre-meal sipping. That said, there are definitely better values to be had at $11 a bottle, but probably not in Petite Sirahs (I have the comparably-priced Concannon Petite Sirah in the cellar which I'll break out for comparison purposes next time the mood strikes which, given our weather forecast, could be quite soon).