Last Friday evening, I attended Dark & Delicious, a Petite Sirah and food pairing tasting at Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco.

Fuzzy label, delicious wine, at the 2010 Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah tasting.

Late Friday, after returning to Cotati in Sonoma County from the wine tasting, I began to experience an alternately runny/stuffy nose. It has been warm, following rains in northern California, the hills are green, mustard and other ground cover is blooming between the vine rows, and I had to wonder if I might have developed an allergy to something.

Saturday, I found myself in the grips of the mother of all head colds, and the affliction saw me spend most of yesterday in bed. I am not 100% today, but I had to get up and write this overdue recap of Dark & Delicious.

There were 30 restaurants offering up tasty Petite Sirah bites; I did not taste from all of the restaurants but of those I tasted food from, my favorites were:

  • Harvest Catering – White Corn Polenta Cake with Braised Kobe Beef Short Ribs and California Orange Gremolata.
  • Andalu Restaurant – Rosemary, Thyme and Juniper Wild Boar and Bacon Meatballs

  • 9 Catering – Lamb Tenderloin with Minty Labneh, Hummus, Arugula and Pomegranate.

  • Fume Bistro & Bar – Petite Sirah Braised Short Ribs on Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Angela’s Bistro – Chocolate Drizzled Bacon Slices.

My favorite was Fume Bistro’s Short Ribs and Garlic Mashed Potatoes, although Harvest Catering’s Orange Gremolata is something I will be stealing for my own – it was deliciously brilliant and flavor intensive.

There were so many other yummy things, sliders, pate, cheese, and even a paella prepared on premise (that I sadly didn’t taste).

Giant Paella pans

For those unfamiliar with Petite Sirah, it is a smaller grape with a higher skin to juice ration. The skin is very dark, and where most red grapes yield clear juice, even the juice of Petite Sirah is colored when pressed from the skins. Skin contact during fermentation yields a very dark, sometimes midnight blue black, with black plum and blueberry notes, mixed with chocolate and woody spice.

Everyone was enjoying themselves at the event.

I had contacted the 45 wineries scheduled to pour Petite Sirah in advance of the event, and 43/45 furnished me with the information needed to prepare a tasting order by alcohol content percentage, from low to high. When I arrived at the event, I found the wineries were not arranged in alphabetical order. Between the random winery placement and the quickly developing crowds, my efforts and planned tasting order were quickly out the window. Thanks to all of the wineries who helped me, I apologize for not being able to taste all of the wines poured, or even a wine from each of the pouring wineries. My tastings were random and haphazard, but I did maintain rudimentary notes.

Where I tasted a few Zinfandels at the ZAP Zinfandel tasting events that I would never want again, I found that the Petite Sirah poured at Dark & Delicious were more uniformly, well, delicious. An easier grape to work with, it allows a winemaker an easier path to good wine. Toward the end of the event, the tell tale blue staining of teeth marked this event as a rousing success.

The following are wines that I tasted and would recommend. Most would have earned Gold medals from me, some Silver, and a couple Bronze, but all were noteworthy.

  • 2006 Berryessa Gap Estate Grown Reserve Petite Sirah Yolo County $18
  • 2007 Cleavage Creek Napa Valley Reserve Petite Sirah $45
  • 2005 Concannon Reserve Estate Petite Estate
  • 2006 David Fulton Winery Estate Bottled Petite Sirah St Helena Napa Valley $45
  • 2006 Field Stone Winery Staten Family Estate Bottled Reserve Petite Sirah Alexander Valley $35

Field Stone’s yummy AV Petite

  • 2007 Fortress Vineyards Petite Sirah Red Hills Lake County $25
  • 2007 Grizzly Republic Roadrunner Farm Petite Sirah Paso Robles $42

A Grizzly pair

  • 2007 Guenoc Petite Sirah Lake County $20
  • 2006 Heringer Estates Petite Sirah Clarksburg $26
  • 2006 Langtry Estate Petite Sirah Serpentine Meadow $40
  • 2006 Lava Cap Petite Sirah Granite Hill $30
  • 2007 Line 39 Petite Sirah North Coast $15
  • 2006 Miro Cellars Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley $23
  • 2007 Mounts Family Winery Estate Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley $32

Mounts and Stanton; or Stanton and Mounts

  • 2006 Parducci True Grit Petite Sirah, Mendocino County $30
  • 2007 Robert Biale Vineyards Like Father Like Son (Syrah/Petite Sirah blend) Napa Valley $46
  • 2007 Robert Biale Vineyards Petite Sirah EBA (Extended Barrel Aging) Napa Valley $75
  • 2007 Robert Biale Vineyards Petite Sirah Party Line Napa Valley
  • 2006 Robert Biale Petite Vineyards Sirah Royal Punishers Napa Valley $46
  • 2007 Rock Wall Petite Sirah Dry Creek Valley $28
  • 2008 R&B Cellars Pizzicato Petite Sirah Bingham Ranch

An R&B Cellars barrel

  • 2007 Spangler Vineyards Petite Sirah, The Terraces, Southern Oregon $35
  • 2007 Stanton Vineyards Petite Sirah St Helena Napa Valley $45
  • 2007 Tres Sabores Petite Sirah Napa Valley $45

Julie Johnson, owner and winemaker, Tres Sabores

  • 2006 Twisted Oak Petite Sirah Calaveras County $24

Twisted Oak’s El Jefe

  • 2007 Vina Robles Petite Sirah Penman Springs Paso Robles
  • 2007 Windmill (Michael~David Winery) Petite Sirah Lodi $12

In addition to tasting many delicious wines and yummy food treats, the event allowed me to meet Jo Diaz, Thea Dwelle, and Eric Hwang. Jo organized this entire Petite Sirah tasting event, Thea is a bay area Twitter wine superstar, and Eric is demonstrating that Marketing can be effectively incorporated into a winery’s Social Media Marketing plan.

Jo Diaz, Petite Sirah’s best friend

Eric and Thea,  my tweeps @bricksofwine and @winebratsf

A band played live music in one corner of the facility, while a DJ played music in the opposite corner of the huge building. There was dancing, tasting, auction prize bidding, and art raffle. Thanks to and all of the wineries, restaurants and volunteers who helped make this a first class wine event.

The band

Art for raffle.

Melanie, PSILoveYou superstar volunteer

I tasted some Petites that screamed Terroir, you noticed where they came from long before you appreciated the varietal. I tasted wines with almost no place identity, but had perfectly captured the varietal’s typicity. Some wines that I scored highly made the list because of where they came from, others because of their “correctness”.

My #1 favorite wine of the tasting wasn’t even a Petite Sirah, strictly speaking, but a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah, the 2007 Robert Biale Vineyards Like Father Like Son Napa Valley $46.

My favorite wine tasted, the not yet released Robert Biale Syrah/Petite Sirah Blend.

I was thrilled to find both the 2007 Line 39 Petite Sirah North Coast  $15 and 2007 Guenoc Petite Sirah Lake County $20 (You can often find this Guenoc in markets for $12-$16) drinking well. Both are approachable, varietally correct, and affordable.