2007 Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah
California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Fantastic! That pretty much sums up today’s wine. If you’ve strayed away from Petite Sirah because it can be coarse or harsh, let this one bring the magic back for you. Simply delicious.
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Mission Codename: The Bear Cub
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Return to Operative favorite, Peterson Winery and score a limited allocation of their fantastic 2007 Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Peterson Winery
Wine Subject: 2007 Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah
Winemaker: Jamie Peterson
Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley is a treasure trove of great wines. While The Wine Spies have been trying to keep from acquiring too many wines from the region when the wines are great, so why not?
Petite Sirah’s California roots dates back to when it was believed to be a close relative of the Syrah grape. Later it would be found to be genetically identical to the Durif, named for its after French discoverer François Durif who found that the varietal was a Syrah grape pollinated with Peloursin flowers. Its smaller berries with higher skin to pulp ratio leads to more intense flavors. Another benefit of the smaller berries are tighter clusters that are more resistant to mildew. Currently Petite Sirah is less popular in France and increasingly popular in the United States.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dense and dark bluish purple and almost black in color with a nearly inky core. The dense color of this wine extends to the meniscus where the color shows garnet. When swirled, the glass-staining (and teeth and tongue too) legs descend to the wine below at random speed.
Smell – Bold and rich intensity with ripe and sweet black fruit and plum over a base of vanilla and toasted oak. Sweet and dark earthy minerality aromas meld with spice and dark cocoa hints.
Feel – Surprisingly mellow, rich and round in its attack, this dry wine has well developed ripe tannins that expand over the palate but don’t overpower the flavors nor are they overly aggressive. Soft, but balanced acidity and a textural minerality grips the fruit and other complex flavors long into the finish.
Taste – Concentrated and dense dark berries and plum with a soft and sweet jammy character blend with notes of sweet and dark earthiness, spice and vanilla and toasted oak components. Hints of bitter-sweet dark chocolate and wild anise also emerge as this wine opens up.
Finish – This wine’s expansive and robust fruit and other complex flavors fades gently in perfect unison with its well developed tannins and dark earthy minerality.
Conclusion – The 2007 Peterson Winery Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah is the kind of Petite Sirah that will change the minds of even this biggest skeptics of the varietal. Rich, dense and amazingly smooth this wine grabs hold but does so in a soft manner. As Jamie and Fred suggest, this wine is perfect for a hearty stew and we paired with with my top secret 5 pepper/3 bean chili.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Jamie Peterson
DATE OF BIRTH: March 20, 1981
PLACE OF BIRTH: Saratoga, CA (Mt. Eden Vineyards)
WINE EDUCATION: Ongoing, on-the-job. UC Davis Extension chemistry/lab analysis/viticulture classes.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Grew up in Peterson Winery, helping with odd jobs in the winery and vineyard as a teenager. Worked first harvest at 19, and then traveled to Australia and New Zealand to work harvest in 2001. took over as Assistant Winemaker at Peterson Winery in 2002. Given full Winemaker responsibility in 2006.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Zero Manipulation”/Minimal intervention, letting the vineyard and vintage show through in each bottling. No fining, no filtration. Minimal new oak usage, minimal additions and SO2 use.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel.
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Jamie. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah, today. We love the wine!! Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today. And, thanks for making such amazing wines!
JAMIE: Thank you for giving me the time.
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
JAMIE: It’d be hard to pick one. Growing up with the sights, sounds, and smells of the winery and vineyards, there were many inspirational moments. But I didn’t think I’d be getting into the life of wine as deeply as I have until I worked harvests in 2001 in Australia and New Zealand. Seeing the international wine community and how it ties people together made me decide to come back to the family winery and join full time in 2002.
WHITE: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
JAMIE: From my father, growing up in the winery, and being able to learn on the job.
*WHITE *: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
JAMIE: I believe that vineyard and vintage driven wines are the only reason for small wineries to exist. I prefer wines from different vintages to reflect the growing season (otherwise why put the vintage on the bottle?) rather than use additives (acid, tannins, enzymes, gum arabic, overblown new oak) or technological processes (filtration, alcohol removal, micro-oxygenation) to create wines that taste the same each year. I don’t filter or fine our wines, and I predominantly use native yeast fermentations and malo-lactics, so we have to keep things clean and monitor closely, as we don’t choose to use the tools for fixing mistakes that some wineries do. We source from the same vineyards each year, so there is a thread of continuity running through vintages. Our vineyards are sustainably farmed, with a few certified organic, and a number of others dry-farmed.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
JAMIE: I’m inspired by European vintners who have made wines from the same places for generations, and haven’t succumbed to commercialism.
WHITE: How long have you been making wine?
JAMIE: 2002 was my first full year of working with wines from grape to bottle. 2000 was the first full harvest I worked with my father. At 28, I have 12 harvests under my belt (including working in both Australia and New Zealand in 2001).
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
JAMIE: I make wines for my own tastes, and then we find enough people that share our ideas to buy it. We don’t submit our wines for scoring or competitions.
WHITE: Tell me, what makes the Dry Creek Valley so special?
JAMIE: The Dry Creek Valley features and amazing array of soil types and exposures for such a geographically small area, leading to a diverse range
of flavors and subtleties in wines, even of the same varietal. This is why we make multiple single-vineyard Zinfandels, and it also helps us make
varietal wines with complex flavors from blending from different parts of the valley, such as our Petite Sirah.
WHITE: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
JAMIE: Realize that winemaking is both simple and complicated. It’s all just fermented grape juice, but it’s all about the details; every minute little thing you do or don’t do to the grapes or wine will affect how it turns out.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
JAMIE: We’ll be bottling the majority of our 2008 reds in the next couple months. We’re keeping an eye on and tasting the 2009 wines in barrel (which
are great, by the way), and starting to think about potential blends. We’re checking on the newly awakened vineyards as well, and seeing how the start
of the growing is season is progressing.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
JAMIE: Petite Sirah is not a wine we bottle every year. We primarily use Petite Sirah to blend into Zin, Carignane, or other Rhone blends, to provide
depth and tannin. Some years, when the Petite Sirah tastes right, and we have enough, we’ll set out to bottle it as a varietal. We always blend in
some Carignane, Zin, Mourvedre, and/or Syrah to give some more complexity to the monolithic Petite.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
JAMIE: This wine begs for rich, smoky, earthy foods. It is more balanced in tannin than many Petite Sirah wines, and is much more versatile. I love
it with a slow smoked pork butt (pulled pork, etc), or a smoked brisket, along with assorted grilled vegetables. It’s also a no-brainer with a hearty
WHITE: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
JAMIE: I like to go mushroom hunting (for chanterelles and porcini), even though as a teenager I accidently picked and ate Death Cap mushrooms.
WHITE: What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
JAMIE: Zinfandel is the wine I seem to open the most often of our own, but I also drink a lot of Rhone wines, and wines from the Ventoux.
WHITE: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
JAMIE: So many people look for the “best” wine. I always ask them “best for what?” Every wine has a place and time for appreciating (unless it just is a wine that really sucks…), and it’s more important for people to figure out what types of wine they like, and why, than what others think is the best. Trust your own palate rather than what a critic or others say.
WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
JAMIE: Thanks for having me, and for appreciating and featuring our wines!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Peterson Winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
Our ’07 Petite Sirah is so intense we decided we should start with a warning label. The inky blue-black color, coupled with the intense dark fruit nose wrapped in a mineral essence, should be warning enough of the robust wine that follows.
The focused core of dark, concentrated berry is intertwined with the mineral essence found in the nose. This minerally quality refects the soil where the grapes are grown, making this an excellent example of a terroir-driven wine. Chewy yet rounded, the flavors are reminiscent of velvet boxing gloves with the smooth, richly intense fruit and the one-two punch of the tightly woven structure. Behind the core linger hints of anise and vanilla with just a touch of floral notes.
It’s tempting to consume now with hearty stews or roasted meats, but those patient enough to cellar it for a year or two, or more, will be rewarded with a full-bodied, rich, mellow Petite Sirah.
Fred’s (Peterson) Vintaged View: Petite Sirah has long been used as a blending grape to enhance the color, tannins and structure of other red varietals. By itself, we fnd Petite Sirah to be rather monolithic and one-dimensional. Since our frst vintage of Petite Sirah in 1994, we’ve chosen blending other full-favored wines that complement Petite Sirah, and add complexity, layers of favors, spice and length.
Our 2007 Petite Sirah from the West Vineyard is a big chewy Petite with an added twist. For the twist, we blended in 13% Zinfandel from the Brokow and Bradford Mountain Vineyards, 6% Carignane from Forchini Vineyard and 6% Syrah from the Olson Vineyard. This addition of Zinfandel, Carignane and Syrah also help to smooth out some of the tannic edges, creating a seductive velvety mouthfeel in this classic, robust Petite Sirah.
Vineyard: The West Vineyard Petite Sirah is a small head-trained block sitting adjacent to Norton Creek in the southern end of Dry Creek Valley. The soil in this block is well-drained gravel resulting in intensely favored and balanced fruit.
About Peterson Winery:
We are located in the Dry Creek Valley, in the northwest region of Sonoma County. Peterson Winery’s new tasting room is now open for wine tasting and sales daily 11am-4:30pm. We often pour our wines at local tasting and charity events as well. Check for upcoming events on the News & Events page.
Our wines are also available for tasting at the “LOCALS” tasting room in Geyserville. See tastelocalwines.com for directions and details. Click on the “Find Us” link for a map to the winery and to LOCALS in Geyserville.
If you have any questions about Peterson Winery or our wines, send us an e-mail at email@example.com and we’ll respond as soon as we can.
We can’t tell our whole story here, but we hope that by looking at a few photos and reading a bit more about us, you’ll find out who we are and why we love to make great wines.
About The Winemaker:
Jamie Peterson – It’s not by coincidence that I’m the winemaker at Peterson Winery. I’ve been helping my father at the winery for the past ten years, back to the days of labeling the bottles by hand. I worked two harvests here at the winery, in 2000 and 2001, and the 2001 harvests Down Under in Australia at Lowe Family Winery, and then in New Zealand, at Ngatarawa Winery. With this solid base of experience, much to my excitement I was given the opportunity of taking over winemaking duties in June 2002, and have been loving it ever since.
Overseeing the quality of the wine from when the grapes come in all the way through to the bottle is my main responsibility and priority. Since it’s just my father and I, this keeps me pretty busy, but when I’m not checking up on barrels or wrestling with the bottling equipment, you can often find me at one the numerous tasting events we attend, whether it is for charity or for the love of wine. In my free time, I’ve started a Peterson Winery softball team with my friends here in Healdsburg. I also enjoy cooking, foraging for local culinary mushrooms, reading, and am a Giants baseball fan. Continuing winemaking tradition of Zero Manipulation.
Composition & Harvest Dates: 75% Petite Sirah – West Vineyard Sept. 29, 2007; 13% Zinfandel – Borkow & Bradford Mountain Vnyd Aug. 29 & Sept. 3, 2007; 6% Carignane – Forchini Vineyard Sept. 22, 2007; 6% Syrah – Olson Vineyard Oct. 2, 2007
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
Barrel Aging: 23 months
Type of Oak: 75% new American oak barrels; 19% 3 to 4-year-old French oak barrels; 6% new Hungarian oak barrels
Bottling Date: July 9, 2009
Production: 200 cases
Release Date: January 2010