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Petite Sirah

With an inky, intense palate packed with dark red-fruit notes and firm tannins, Petite Sirah, named for its small berries, easily doubles as a dessert wine. But it’s also a rare wine in that it’s challenging to grow, which means few producers are releasing bottles of Petite Sirah.

The bulk of Petite Sirah comes from California, Israel and Australia, although recent plantings in Washington State and Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula suggest this grape’s strong potential in the New World.

Petite Sirah only dates back to the 1860s when a French botanist merged plantings of Peloursin and Syrah. But it wasn’t until 1997 when the University of California-Davis embarked on a DNA-fingerprinting study to map the grape, that scientists confirmed that Petite Sirah may very well have been the result of cross-pollination between Peloursin and Syrah.

Often blended with Zinfandel for an even more robust profile, in turn, Petite Sirah is often called upon to strengthen other red-wine blends.

Quick Facts

  • Durif is another name for the Petite Sirah grape
  • In a departure from European tradition, Petite Sirah—despite not being considered a Côtes du Rhône-sanctioned varietal in France—was added to Rhone Rangers’ listing of wines in 2002
  • In 2005, five cases of 2003 Petite Sirah from Marham Vineyards sold for $4,500 at Premiere Napa Valley

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