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02.10.2009

Dark and Delicious Petite Sirah Tasting: February 20, Alameda

psiloveyou.jpgI've referred to it in the past as "the beast." Possessing tannins that need to be tamed through intelligent winemaking, Petite Sirah can truly be a monster of a wine. One of the least-well -known red grape varieties that are commonly grown in California, it does not command legions of rabid followers like Zinfandel or Cabernet or even Syrah, from which it takes its misleading name. In the right hands, however, Petite Sirah can be a stunning wine -- deep, resonant, and rich.

Petite Sirah has been grown in California for a long time, but apart from some limited success in the 1970s at the hands of Carl Doumani and Stags' Leap Winery, wines made exclusively from this grape variety never really earned the respect or attention of mainstream wine lovers in any significant way.

Yet producers all over the state continue, quietly, to make Petite Sirahs, and many have no trouble selling them at all to an equally quiet, but at times rabid following of wine lovers.

And occasionally, these producers, not so quietly serve up their wines with roast meats and chocolate for anyone who dares drink on the dark side, if you'll pardon the expression. The next opportunity you have to sample their wares will be Friday, February 20th, when the society of winegrowers and makers known as P.S. I Love You holds its annual tasting at The Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda.

By then you should be:

a) sufficiently recovered from the Zap Zinfandel festival

b) in the mood for something other than Zinfandel

So go check it out. Who knows, perhaps you'll fall in love too. The wineries that will be pouring at this year's event include:

Alger Vineyards
August Briggs Winery
Berryessa Gap
Ballentine Vineyards
Bogle Vineyards & Winery
Clayhouse
Concannon Vineyard
David Fulton Winery
EOS Estate & Winery
F. Teldeschi Winery
Field Stone Winery
Foppiano Vineyards
Harney Lane Winery
Heringer
Huntington Wine Cellars
JC Cellars
Judd's Hill
Lava Cap Winery
Marr Cellars
Michael~David Winery
Mounts Family Winery
Moss Creek
Parducci Winery
Rock Wall Wine Company
Robert Biale Vineyards
Rosenblum Cellars
Rutherford Grove Winery & Vineyards
Silkwood Wines
Stanton Vineyards
Trentadue Winery, Miro Cellars
Twisted Oak (and his rubber chickens)
Ursa Vineyards
Vina Robles
Wilson Farms

P.S. I Love You Dark and Delicious Tasting
February 20th, 2009
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The Rock Wall Wine Company
2301 Monarch Street
Alameda, CA 94501 (map)

Tickets are $50 per person and will most likely sell out, as they do every year. If not, then tickets will be available at the door for $60. They should be purchased in advance online.

My usual recommendations for such public tastings apply. Wear dark clothes; arrive well slept and with food in your stomach (or chow down when you first get there); drink lots of water; and SPIT if you want to actually learn anything and enjoy yourself. These are big wines, often high in alcohol.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud