Category Archives: Petite Sirah / Durif

Broken Earth Winery 2010 Quadrant BDX

Paso Robles 13.7% ABV
60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot, 7% Petit Sirah
Cellared and bottled by Broken Earth Winery in Paso Robles, CA
$5.99 at the San Diego, CA (Downtown), store on 3 June

20170723_202414After sampling this over the two hours it has been open since I aerated it into a large Riedel wine glass, I have three thoughts about this wine: (1) This is what I get for buying a $6 domestic red blend that is Merlot-dominant at Grocery Outlet or otherwise (and I do love a good Merlot, of which I’ve had many since I started drinking Grocery Outlet wine in 2009), (2) this wine is a great example of wine that gives Grocery Outlet wine inventory a bad name, and (3) this shows how bogus wine competitions and points scorings are (2012 Orange County Wine Competition gave this wine 93 points). While there isn’t anything truly bad about it, it just doesn’t deliver at the $5.99 price range like so many over the years to which we have become accustomed. Here’s what you’ll get:

Lots of black currant, dark berries, and even some figs on the nose, but it’s one that isn’t particularly complex and without being able to offer more specifics, honestly resembles a lot of cheap California-designated wines that I’ve tried at GO over the years. It does show a beautifully dark purple color, probably the result of Petit Sirah and Petite Verdot. The palate belies the nose a bit, and at least honors the blend, but the sweetness of the Merlot overwhelms any of the other interesting characteristics that the Cab, Petite Verdot, and Petit Sirah may have offered. If you blindfolded me, I would have guessed 80% Merlot. The wine is acid with mild-medium tannins and absolutely benefits from decanting or air time, but it also blends those flavors together that emerge as rather sweet and unsophisticated on the other side. It drinks fine for the $6-10 range but for the $6 range at GO, it just doesn’t deliver. It’s solely Drinkable for me. If you or a guest loves the simpler end of the Merlot spectrum, however, give it a shot.


VQ 2012 Cuvée VIII red blend

25% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Tempranillo, 10% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah
5% Cinsault, 5% Mourvèdre, 5% Counoise, 5% Graciano; 14% ABV
from Odisea Wine Company, Napa, CA
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 1 July

VQ_2012_CuveeVIIII was definitely intrigued by this complex sort-of Rhone-style blend, and the not-bad label.  When I looked at the blend, I thought, “Hey, it’s missing Zinfandel!”  It turns out that I think the easiest description of this wine is “Zinfandel,” although with kind of strong acid.

On the first night, the flavors were immediately interesting and quite complex, but the sharp acid overwhelmed the pleasure I found in it.  After 2 – 2.5 hours in a decanter, the acid had mellowed somewhat, and the flavors were still very nice: darker red and purple fruits, with earth, prune, slight herbs, and spice, quite assertively complex.  Still, I hoped the second half would be more mellow.

Indeed, the second half (stored in a 375ml screwcap bottle with very little air) was a bit better.  All the flavors were nicely integrated and tasty, and the acid had calmed down significantly.  However, the acid was still strong enough that I’d probably not get another bottle, even if I were not inclined to get something new to review.  It was fine enough with food, though.

Valley of the Moon 2011 “Orbiter”

(roughly) 40% Petite Sirah, 20% Syrah, 40% Zinfandel; probably about 14% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 2 May

ValleyOfTheMoon_2011_OrbiterThis blend looked quite fun and tasty.  The large percentage of the hearty Petite Sirah grape made me optimistic that the wine would be decent even from the more challenging year of 2011.  Indeed, after about 1:15 – 1:45 in a decanter, the wine tasted of ripe dark blackberry, acid of boysenberry / black raspberry / hibiscus tea, purple cherry, slightly tarry, hints of brown earth and black pepper, maybe a little strawberry jam (?).  It seems dominated by the dark fruit, acid, and tannin of the Petite Sirah, but other grapes add more softness and fruit complexities.  It’s quite tasty now, and it should be fine for another year or so.

The saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was redder and more acid, but still pretty tasty.  G.L. Pease said that on the second day, the last bit he left in the stoppered bottle fell apart completely, and had become too acid to drink.

Padilla Erickson 2007 “El Jefe” and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 “El Jefe”
61% Syrah, 21% Petite Sirah, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon; 14.7% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 7 Oct

PadillaErickson_2007_ElJefeThis blend looked very interesting, and a 2007 wine should be old enough, so I thought I’d try it.  I found it rather ripe and soft for my taste, but I’m sure many people will love it, and I’d definitely give it Thumbs Up.

It was not bad at first pour, but I thought it needed about 70 minutes of air for the fruit to really come out.  Then, it showed dark, tarry blackberry and boysenberry, with a “roasted” or “grilled” character, balanced with zingy acid of dark cranberry, and a slight herbaceous flavor close to the tar.  The texture is on the thicker side and smooth.

The saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle had flavors that were redder and more integrated, more tobacco than tar, and perhaps more acid, but still very good.

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; 15.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 8 Oct.  Gone there now.

PadillaErickson_2010_CabThis Cabernet looked quite promising, with a very heavy bottle and pretty label.  I think it’s rather similar to, but slightly better than, the El Jefe.

This wine surprised me by not being tremendously different from the El Jefe.  The fruit is still on the soft and ripe side, although it has more tannic density and does taste more like Cabernet.  🙂  However, it would not surprise me at all if this wine also had some Syrah or 1% to 3% Petite Sirah.  While it was tasty enough at first pour, I thought it needed about two hours to become reasonably accessible, and I liked it best after three hours.  The wine showed flavors of tangy boysenberry / blueberry in addition to the more usual Cab flavors of blackberry, purple plum, purple cherry, a little cranberry, still with some of the same “roasted” character of the El Jefe.  The ripe fruit has plenty of balancing, ripe acid, and the finish is more tannic than the El Jefe.

The saved SGSCB was, like the El Jefe, redder and more integrated, but still very good.

Ron Piazza wrote about this wine: “Ok had to give this a try. At 15.5% alcohol I was expecting quite a bit of heat. Surprise, zero what you have is a lovely velvety wine, with ripe Napa fruit, dusty, cassis berries in the nose, smooth on the palate, a bit short in the finish but no real problems.”

2011 Luna Cabernet Sauvignon $7.99

Luna Vineyards, Napa CA
14.1% ABV
Purchased: Corvallis, OR 1-5-2015

IMG_0926Well, if anyone was going to buy this, it would be me. I fell in love with the 2010 Lunatic Red blend at GO. I’m surprised that no one here ever reviewed it…but this is a refresher for those that missed it; also, loved the 2011 Lunatic white blend that Lim13 reviewed. We ended up purchasing a case of the red blend from GO and another from another store when GO ran out, as well as a case of the white. Still have a few bottles of each left and they are still drinking beautifully. Both are blends done by the Luna Vineyards. That just sets up why I broke my cardinal rule (“only buy one bottle at a time at GO”) and bought 4 bottles of their Cabernet, today, before tasting.

I can’t seem to link to the fact sheet but the 2011 Luna Cabernet is on the bottom of the page (from the Luna link at the top of this review). I’m guessing that they are showing the Black Label Reserve for the price of $60 a bottle. This red label is not shown on the site….but it does give you an idea of what their wines go for in a retail setting.

Now my question to you all…have you ever come across a GO wine that did not at all taste like it’s varietal? Like it was mis-labeled? Because I wonder if this one was…

Color: Burgundy/red, somewhat transparent.
Body: Much lighter than I would expect from a Napa Cab.
Nose: Raspberry, chocolate, floral. Really nice.
Taste: At room temp-rather tart-ish raspberry, cherry, coffee and a bit of white pepper. Very fruit forward but not a heavy, weighty Cabernet. Low acidity. Not a lot of dimensions here upon first opening so we closed it and chilled it a bit (liked it a lot better chilled, more plum notes). Moderate alcohol heat.

While this is a drinkable wine, I’m not sure where or how it will satisfy those who specifically love or are looking for a Cabernet. For a “big” Napa Cabernet lover (like myself), the body is too light, it’s too fruity and there’s not much in the way of layers of taste. For the “old country” style red wine lover, the acidity is low but the fruit is so forward that you would never mistake it for old world style either. It appears to be another Misfit Wine on the Isle of Misfit Wines of GO. Now as I said, I did buy more than one bottle so I will definitely update if that is just a freak variation.

Again, I think it’s a suitable red wine (being on the tarter/lighter side) for foods that you would normally pair Chianti or Sangiovese (it’s a lot like California Sangiovese to me, bit too dark in color though). I had to take a step back after my first taste and try to evaluate it for what it is, rather than what I think it should be; and to be honest, if I tasted this wine blind (and had to choose btw. Cab or Sangiovese) I would think it was their 2012 Sangiovese (red label…this wine tastes like how they describe that wine). It does make me honestly wonder if it was mislabeled.

Basically I have no idea how to classify this one. That’s why the review is so long. Hopefully the tasting notes will let you know if you want to try it or not.

I have to say that I was hoping for great things again from Luna and was a bit disappointed here.

Powder Keg 2009 Petite Sirah

California, 13.8% ABV
$6 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 8 Nov.  Still there today.

PowderKeg_2009_PetiteSirahAfter liking the Powder Keg Syrah pretty well but not extraordinarily well, I thought I could leave this alone.  But then Expat wrote about it: “A full dose of ripe fruit but not cloying. I’m getting two things out of this early on – blueberry pie and leather. I like petite sirahs with tannins that manhandle me a little bit paired with a nice drying finish. This has a softer backbone than I was hoping but so far it’s pretty good. If you like softer, thick wines this is definitely for you.  And EricFromRichmond also liked it, so I had to get a bottle before the sale ended.  And I agree with them!  🙂

When I opened the bottle, I immediately poured off half of it into a 375ml bottle and stoppered it with very little air.  I don’t recall how long it took me to consume the rest of it, but it didn’t impress me that much the first night.  It struck me as a sort of soft and generic red without all that much Petite Sirah character: cherry and cranberry.  It slowly opened to show a little more of the PS blackberry fruit, but only enough to make me hope the second half would be better.

A couple days later, I opened the second half.  A little more air does indeed deliver wine with yummy ripe blackberry, with a little chocolate /prune.  (Within the precision we’re dealing with here, this is IMO completely equivalent to “blueberry pie and leather.”)  It’s still a little overly soft and fruity for my taste — the strong tannin and acid of PS may have been a little too tamed here — but it is nonetheless tasty.


Ironstone 2013 Petite Sirah

Lodi, CA; 13.5% ABV
$5 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 3 Sep

Ironstone_2013_PetiteSirahWhen I opened this, I first poured off half into a 375ml bottle and stoppered it with very little air.  I drank the rest over about 2½ hours and did not like it very much.  It tasted like rather generic red wine, kind of $2-Chuck-like, with not that much Petite Sirah character coming through.

The second half, however, does show more typical Petite Sirah flavors.  It needed only a little air in the glass to show nice Petite Sirah flavor of lighter boysenberry / black raspberry that’s sort of close to roses.  With more air, the fruit darkens to add more blackberry and cherry.  Overall, it’s a decently tasty and balanced Petite Sirah for the price, although not one that excites me very much.  It will likely improve with age.

Hidden Cellars 2011 Petite Sirah

Mendocino Cty, CA, 13.5% ABV
$5 at the Oakland, CA, store on 8 Aug

HiddenCellars_2011_PetiteSirahReaders Seedboy and JoelA have already praised this wine in What’s New.  Seedboy wrote, “I’ve been enjoying a bottle of this over the last few days. It is a very nicely balanced wine that is not super fruity, it actually has as much savory as it has fruit. I like it a lot.”  JoelA added, “I also liked the petite sirah. Black fruit up front, coffee/cola/earthy flavors behind. Still young, could age a few years.”

I agree with them!  This is a nicely structured and balanced wine in which neither the fruit nor the tannin is out of control.  On the first night, I thought the wine was tasty, with flavors of cherry, redder blackberry, darker roses and vanilla, but still a bit closed even after two hours of air.  The second half, stored in a 375ml bottle with very little air, was darker and a little more forward and, I thought, more pleasant to drink.  As Joel said, it’s still quite young and should age well for at least a few more years, and it’s a nice wine for those who like to drink a bottle over more than one or two days.

NV Meld California Red Table Wine $4.99

Silverdale, WA    12.5% alc.     (Purchased on 7/22/14)

IMG_1638Back label says it’s a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah.  Funny thing, but when I pulled the plastic cork from the bottle, I got a strong smell of clove from the underside of the cork.  Winemaker a chef or baker?  Someone spill some clove oil in the corking machine?  Anyway, I detected no clove aromas or flavors in this non-vintage Cali red.

Found little info on the web, but it appears this label is produced by Adler Fels in Sonoma County and that they also produce a NV white that (according to a Tennessee distributor) received a 90 from Wine Enthusiast magazine.  But then when it’s NV, who knows which NV that might have been?   Here’s a link to a review of the white that I found.

Brilliant medium ruby color; fruity, understated raspberry nose.  Sweet on the front of the tongue, it displays what BW might describe as a little candyish or (to me) candy apple flavors along with slight raspberry and perhaps some cranberry.  There’s some rough tannin…likely from the Petite Sirah, which gives it body in the finish.  There’s something I liked about this red after the first slurp, but I can’t put my finger on what that might be because it immediately disappeared.  The downside for me is nothing about the wine is accentuated…not the nose, not the flavors.  It’s incredibly indistinct, yet completely inoffensive.  You can coax some flavor from it if you suck a lot of air while sipping.  I did find that some wine shop in north Jersey sold it out on sale for $8.99 (regularly $13.99).  But I don’t really feel that five bucks for this red at GO is a bargain.  As I recall, reader and regular contibutor Flitcraft was not particularly enamored of this wine either.

2008 King Mountain Vineyards Zinfandel

Sonoma County, CA; 14.5% ABV
“sustainably farmed and produced”
“blended with a small amount of Petite Sirah”
$7 at the Geary Street, San Francisco, store on 20 Jan. $19 on their web site (w/o 10% case discount)  Also at the Richmond, CA, store.

2008_KingMtn_ZinRight away, I liked the label and bottle of this wine, and its color though the bottle.  When I looked up the producer’s web site, their story was very interesting.  A couple bought many acres of land in Sonoma County between Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley and decided to plant vineyards on a hilltop.  That sounds like a great location to grow Zinfandel!  This vintage, however, “was a challenging one with a second year of drought and a hard frost during the spring. These factors forced a smaller yield but with hand sorting, good quality of fruit.” so I was a little worried about what was actually in the bottle.

The wine pours a lighter purplish red, and starts a bit thin and tart, but with tight complexities and tannins that promise more with air.  Because of unusual circumstances last night, I can’t really say how much air it needs, but I’d guess about 60 – 90 minutes, and it holds up very nicely after that.  The Petite Sirah is immediately evident, with flavors of dark blackberry, other black fruit, and a little chocolate.  The tannic finish is probably also due mostly to the PS.  (For a wine to have a varietal name in CA, that varietal must be at least 75%.)  The Zin gives flavors of black raspberry and darker red cherries, and the wine has nice complexities of rose hips, red delicious apple skin, and dark earth and spice.  Their notes are: “dark garnet hues and aromas of earth and blue fruit. Tart spice and berry flavors are bright in the mid palate with a nice long finish.” I believe the difficult vintage shows in the overall lighter body than most Zin – PS blends; its elegant character more resembles a nice Merlot, again except for that tannic finish.  I found this interesting and tasty wine for the money.  If this is what King Mtn Vineyards did with a challenging vintage, I look forward to a good one, although it would likely not show up at the GO.  I hope they will be okay though the severe drought we’re having now.