Though the names can seem confusing, Petite Sirah is not the same grape type as the Sirah or Shiraz grape. It was developed from the Duriff Rhône grape of France in 1870s. Petite Sirah is considered to be the result of a cross between Syrah and Peloursin, a minor Rhône variety. You may also come across a number of synonyms Petite Sirah is also known by: Dure, Duret, Plant Durif, Pinot de Romans, Bas Plant, Plant Fourchu, Nerin, Gros Noir etc.
Born in France, Petite Sirah does exceptionally well in California, where the climate is warmer, drier and more suitable for this grape. It also succeeded in northeastern Victoria, Australia. In the humid Rhône region of France, the grape had a tendency to mildew and was susceptible to gray rot.
Due to its deep color and intense tannins, for quite a long time Petite Sirah was mostly used as a blending grape. For instance, it was blended into Zinfandel in order to add more complexity. However, as a single varietal wine, Petite Sirah has found quite a lot of admirers as well. It creates rich red full-bodied wines with dense blackberry fruit character, including plum, raspberry, black pepper notes, licorice, smoked meats and tar. It is inky-dark to purple in color and somewhat chewy in the mouth.
The Petite Sirah’s high skin to juice ratio allows it to produce wines with high tannins and acidity, factors which determine the wine’s potential to age well. Petite Sirah can exceed 20 years in the bottle. Aged Petite Sirah tends to give a more mellow flavor to enjoy.
It is recommended to decant the wine or allow it to breathe for several hours before serving. This way, it will soften it a bit and release its true character. Petite Sirah should be served at around 59F.
This wonderful red table wine tends to pair well with meat dishes: steaks, roasts, and game. Grilled and barbecued meats like beef, or lamb with spicy sauces will be a highly recommended choice to enjoy Petite Sirah wine with.