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Weekly Wine Quiz #81: Grape Trivia – Petite Sirah

November 9, 2013 13 comments
Petite Sirah in Bloom. Source: Wikipedia

Petite Sirah in Bloom. Source: Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus again on the red grapes, and today’s subject is Petite Sirah.

Petite Sirah was created by the French botanist François Durif as a result of accidental cross-pollination between Syrah and little known Rhône varietal called Peloursin. To honor its creator, the grape was originally known under the name of Durif, but Petite Sirah happened to stick as a name, so it is a rarity to the see the name Durif on the bottle. While discovered in France, the grape is literally non-existent there, and it is growing primarily in United States, Australia and Israel, with the number of other countries starting to experiment with it.

Petite Sirah came to the United States at the end of the 19th century, but it is only recent that its popularity started to increase rapidly. Just to give you some numbers, in 2002 in California there were about 2,000 acres of Petite Sirah planted, and 62 producers made wine from it. In 2013, the plantings increased more than 4 times, to more than 9,000 acres, and about 1,000 producers joined the suite, bringing the total number of Petite Sirah producers in California to more than 1,060. At the same time, most of the Petite Sirah production is small, typically a few hundred cases, which explains why you see only a very limited number of Petite Sirah wines in the stores.

Petite Sirah (and the name Petite here relates to the size of the grapes) produces small dark-skinned berries, with very high skin to juice ratio, thus bringing a lot of tannins to the resulting wines. But it is not only tannins – Petite Sirah often shows quite an exuberant fruit, with blueberries and raspberries being in the forefront. One important feature of the Petite Sirah grapes is resistance to the mildew, which definitely helps, especially when it rains during the harvest. Petite Sirah is used both for blending and, increasingly, on its own, where it makes very concentrated, powerful and long-living wines, capable of ageing for a few decades or more.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Name the grape: In California, Petite Sirah is a popular blending addition to ___?

Q2: When it comes to the wines in the United States, there is an interesting similarity between the Petite Sirah and Primitivo. Can you explain?

Q3: Which one doesn’t belong and why:

a. Arizona

b. Illinois

c. New Mexico

d. New York

e. Texas

Q4: In the bad, rainy growing season conditions in California, Petite Sirah can be a savior – can you explain why and how does it help?

Q5: What love has to do with the Petite Sirah?

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!

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