After 50 harvests, Parducci has earned its reputation for making top-tier Petite Sirah. In the 1960’s, they were one of the first in California to bottle the grape as a single-varietal wine. All the more impressive since the grape Petite Sirah was only identified as a single varietal via DNA in 1997: it’s actually the French grape Durif.
I’ve always been impressed with Parducci’s Petite Sirahs. They are careful to keep a fresh acidity in the mix to balance out the grape’s native boozy quality. I’ve tasted some bottles of Parducci dating back to the 80’s, most of them were still brilliant.
Let’s talk about this specific bottle, a big bruiser of a Petite Sirah that doesn’t know when to quit. So big rich and dumb it should be a contestant on The Bachelorette. Despite its low price, it is a full-bodied luxury wine with dense notes of luxurious oak. Flavors of sweet vanilla and candied plums balance out the black pepper. By the midpalate, the wine has turned into a chocolate lava abyss. The finish keeps pumping its unctuous fruit into overtime. Its a delicious but exhausting wine.
Petite Sirah is a wildly under drunk wine, and also widely misunderstood. This grape is actually Durif, one of the first vines planted in Northern California. Now a rare grape in it’s native France, it was a sure winner back in the 19th Century. The wines it creates are surprisingly modern in that big boozy way when you don’t really want to know what you are waking up to tomorrow.
It’s also the wine that nourished a generation of Northern California gold miners and before that a generation of hardscrabble farmers in Southern France. It’s the wine of American heritage. It’s the wine that my great great uncle William Sherman planted in Sonoma. It’s the California wine that predated Cabernet Sauvignon by a century. That alone should give it pride of place.