- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Girard, Petite Sirah, Napa Valley, 2006, $28

Don’t trust the name. Petite sirah is not diminutive. Nor is it the same grape as syrah (which, to make matters more confusing, is the same as shiraz).

Instead, petite is the California version of a fairly obscure French variety called durif, and it produces powerful, almost meaty red wines. Particularly when the weather starts to cool, they can taste very satisfying.

Petite sirah is something of a California specialty. Many vintners use it as a blending variety, but plenty of others make stand-alone varietal wines from it. These sometimes taste intense and rustic, as the tannins can seem brutal. Yet when the tannin is managed carefully, the wines can feel surprisingly supple. Full of blackberry fruit flavor, with savory undertones, they taste delicious because they are deep and long.

Girard’s petite sirah comes from a century-old vineyard in the northern Napa Valley. Unabashedly rich and ripe, it nonetheless finishes on a soft, sinuous note and will seduce rather than overwhelm the taste buds. Try it alongside long-cooked meat dishes — beef brisket, ribs or spicy pulled pork. Forget about the confusing name. This wine is sure to delight.

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