Miro Cellars

2006 Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah

California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley

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Mission Codename: Miro, Miro on the wall

Operative: Agent Petite Sirah

Objective: Send new recruit, Agent Petite Sirah, to infiltrate Miro Cellars, secure an ample allocation of Miro’s highly-rated 2006 Petite Sirah

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Miro Cellars

Wine Subject: 2006 Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah

Winemaker: Miro Tcholakov


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.

For today’s wine, Agent Petite Sirah cuts her teeth on her first official mission. She infiltrated Miro Cellars to procure their fantastic 2006 Petite Sirah, a wine that is much sought after by the winery’s most ardent fans. Read Agent Petite Sirah’s mission notes and tasting notes below, for the full story on today’s wine – and then read Agent Petite Sirah’s interview with Miro Tcholakov!

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deepest purple with an inky Burgundy heart, a solidly snappy surface, darkly concentrated purple edges with tightly-spaced legs that emerge quickly and then streak down the glass in thin columns

Smell – Lush and dark, with an initial rush of jammy blackberry that gives way to earthy bramble, blueberry, black currant, black cherry, soft oak and black pepper

Feel – Light and cool on the initial entry, fine at the very tip of the tongue – then a mid-palate grippy dryness sneaks in, drying the roof of the mouth, the lips and cheeks, as the wine coats the mouth with rich tannins

Taste – Deep and delicious with beautifully balanced sweet and lightly tart flavors of dark stonefruit, blackberry and plum. After a moment, the wine reveals young strawberry, tart cherry, oak, black pepper and dusty chocolate powder

Finish – Slightly dry, very flavorful and deeply delicious, with big dark flavors that begin slightly tart, and then go sweet as flavors tail off over a long time, leaving behind a lovely but subtle minerally black pepper

Conclusion – It may be obvious, given my Agent name, that I love great Petite Sirah. What you should know about me, up front, is that I am notoriously difficult to please when it comes to my favorite varietal. This wine, from Miro Cellars, is a remarkably great Petite Sirah. It is well worthy of the praise heaped upon it from the wine press and competitions around the world. Where many California Petites tend to be fantastically huge, this wine holds everything together in perfect balance. Don’t get me wrong; The wine does present big, bold flavors and deep aromatics, but there is also a fineness to the wine, with lighter flavors and an up-front softness that I really found intriguing. With bright acidity, this wine is well suited to pairing with many different foods. This is a rare quality for many a Petite, so I give this wine my full approval. Enjoy!

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Miro Tcholakov

DATE OF BIRTH: 02.04.1966

PLACE OF BIRTH: Trojan, Bulgaria

WINE EDUCATION: Higher Institute of Agriculture, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, UC Davis, SRJC

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Dry Creek Vineyards-1990-1999 as Assistant Winemaker/Cellar Master, Trentadue Winery-1999-present-Winemaker/VP of Production, Miro Cellars-2001-present. Also consulted and continue to consult for a few other small projects domestically and abroad. Currently serving on the Board of Directors for ZAP and “PS I Love you” organizations

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Freedom of Expression”- meaning for Miro wines I source only vineyards that are interesting to me in regard of geology, soil types, location, grape growing styles, grape grower…etc. Not being confined to an “Estate” vineyard gives me the freedom of choice. If the vineyard does not deliver I move on. Great wines can be made without blue blooded heritage and a Chateau in the foreground.

SIGNATURE VARIETAL: So far I made my mark with Petite Sirah for the Miro brand, with my other jobs I have done very well with other varieties and blends. In general I’m very fond of perhaps the only two varieties that California has claim to fame as truly “heritage” –P. Sirah and Zinfandel. My Petite has done well with the gate keepers and media so far.

CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Well I’m not sure what do you consider Highlight but if you mean wine scores I have a few 90 points and above from Wine Enthusiast, Parker, Wine Spectator, Connoisseur Guide, California Grapevine, top picks in New York Times, USA Today, and hundreds of Gold medals and Best of Class and a few Sweepstakes from wine competitions that matter.
I have met and tasted my wines one on one with Michelle Rolland (without paying for it) if that is considered an event but I found that to be very interesting. I have been on the pages of few wine publications. Once Dan Burger put me on the top 20 winemakers in the country…
There is probably more that I don’t remember…

MIRO QUOTE: Just drink it-it is only wine!


AGENT PETITE SIRAH: Greetings, Miro. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Petite Sirah today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

MIRO TCHOLAKOV: A pleasure. My ’06 has become very popular and your Operatives are going to see the last of it.

PETITE SIRAH: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

MIRO: I don’t think that there was any specific event-wine has always been part of our life back in Bulgaria. We made every year about 1000 liters and manage to drink most of it before the next harvest. Wine has always been part of the life circle, just like making cheese or jam or tomato sauces. We also made grappa every year. My grandfather Mariano was the initial inspiration and the first hand source of winemaking knowledge.

PETITE SIRAH: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?

MIRO: The real winemaking I learned during my first years at Dry Creek. I’m not done with the learning by any means yet. Back in Bulgaria we made the wine in the most pure way possible. We rarely used even sulfur! No additives and none of the modern gadgets-just grapes and barrels.

PETITE SIRAH: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?

MIRO: Don’t play with the wine just because you know how. Only intervene when you absolutely have to and you are sure of the outcome. Always pay attention to the details all the time. Everything you do to the wine-matters!

PETITE SIRAH: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

MIRO: Well I don’t think there is just one person-it is more of a collective of people and styles. I do not believe that I have a particular style per say-I just try to get out of the grapes the most from every vintage-and that would be different every year.

PETITE SIRAH: How long have you been making wine?

MIRO: Legally? Commercially –this harvest was my number 20!

PETITE SIRAH: Who do you make wine for?

MIRO: I guess I can say that first I want to be satisfied with the wines I make and of course it will be great if a lot of people including media like them as well. Otherwise I’ll have a lot of wine to drink by myself…

PETITE SIRAH: Tell me, what makes the Dry Creek Valley so special?

MIRO: Well, I always had a soft spot for Dry Creek even after moving to Alexander Valley. Dry Creek is less uniform geologically and climate wise than say AV. There are many secluded little vineyards hidden in some small valleys or hill tops. I love the red dirt on the slopes. I just like the flavors that all that combination of dirt and climate do to Zin and PS.

PETITE SIRAH: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?

MIRO: You have to love the job. If you are in it just 8 to 5 don’t even think about it. If the love and passion are not there you will be just a booze maker. Also you have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of time and long days and hours away from the family.

PETITE SIRAH: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

MIRO: It is Harvest!! Everything that I normally do plus Harvest on top of it.

PETITE SIRAH: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today

MIRO: 2006 Petite is probably the most ready to drink yearly Petite I’ve ever made. The 06 harvest was not exactly a perfect one especially for the late ripening varieties but PS is not one of them. From winemaking point of view I prefer fermenting PS in open top and basically think of it as Pinot with a bit more air exposure. It is an easy to understand wine-just big, dark and delicious. It has a mile long finish and it will stand the test of time and only get better. It has a very seductive sweet and ripe aroma that will make you keep smelling it until the last drop.

PETITE SIRAH: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

MIRO: Petites usually go well with the category of comfort foods-anything related to fall and winter. Meat with root vegetables like stew, oven roasts, something cooked slowly for a long time. Also as a no brainer-grilled meats. Occasionally I love it with the Chicken Livers dish at the Bistro Ralph in Healdsburg.

PETITE SIRAH: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know

MIRO: I wanted to be a MD back in Bulgaria but my girlfriend talked me out of it

PETITE SIRAH: Thank goodness for us fans of your wines! What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?

MIRO: Rhone wines for sure. I even make one for a winemaker called Cuvee Sasha a GSM-simply delicious without all the pretence.

PETITE SIRAH: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?

MIRO: Think of them as $100 bottle of wines and you will not be disappointed. I hate the cliché but they are “affordable luxury”

PETITE SIRAH: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?

MIRO: I would like to try again the 1927 Château D’yquem

PETITE SIRAH: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?

MIRO: Have I been connected to KGB? The answer is –perhaps!

PETITE SIRAH: Our intel reports were correct then! 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!

MIRO: Thank you, Agent Petite Sirah!

What the Winery Says

Awards & Accolades:

Gold Medal – San Antonio Wine Festival

Gold Medal – 2009 West Coast Wine Competition

About This Wine:

The quickest way to describe this wine is “dark and delicious”! Loads of blackberry, blueberry and dark cherries are enveloped in toasty oak aromas of cocoa powder, vanilla and a touch of graphite. On the mouth the wine is big, rich and extracted but with remarkably civilized tannins for this variety.


I made my first Petite Sirah 18 years ago and I’m still in love with the grape. Petite is truly an American variety-powerful, bold and unrestrained in its capability, and yet it needs a gentle winemaking approach to unveil its true identity.

Vineyard: Dry Creek Valley has a long established reputation for growing outstanding Zin and Petite Sirah. The grapes are from two distinctly different vineyard-one on the valley floor a few feet from Dry Creek and the other from a beautiful hill side vineyard surrounded by towering Redwoods.

Soil: The valley floor is comprised of predominantly deep gravelly-sandy and Cortina type soils (fertile) whereas the hill side is made of mostly low fertility, brick red clay (Manzanita) type soil. Both type soils produce wines with relatively low pH and firm structure.

The Vintage: 2006 Vintage will be remembered as the one with heavy rainfall in the winter and relatively cool summer. The long ripening season provided extra “hang time” for the grapes and thus produced wines with great depth and superb structure. Following the abundant 2005 vintage 2006 had a relatively low yields contributing to more intense flavor and overall concentration.

Winemaking: Both vineyards were harvested early on the morning of October 19th of 2006 with average 24.5 Brix sugar and total of 5 tons. The fruit was hand sorted and destemmed only for whole berry fermentation in small open top tanks by gently punching down the cap by hand. Three specific strains of yeast were used to compliment the character of Petite Sirah. Post fermentation the must was pressed directly without the use of pumps for gentle extraction and only the free run wine was collected. The mallolactic fermentation was completed in 40% new European oak barrels. The wines were aged for 17 months before bottling.

About The Winery:

MIRO Cellars searches the region for the nest grapes from a variety of vineyards to make their one-of-a-kind specialty wines. Award winning winemaker Miro Tcholakov considers the particular geology and seasonal climate variations of each vineyard when selecting the most interesting grapes the region has to offer. Because Miro has complete freedom to make precisely the wines he loves best, the results are a spectacular leap above the expected. Let yourself in on one of the best kept secrets in wine today — MIRO.

Technical Analysis:

Appellation: Dry Creek Valley

Blend: 100 % Petite Sirah

Barrel aging: 17 months in 40% new European oak barrels

Production: 369 cases

Alcohol: 14.5%

TA: 6.1g/L

pH: 3.60

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