The 2012 1WD CA Petite Sirah Taste-Off, Part Deux

Vinted on April 11, 2012 binned in wine review

Today continues the focus this week on The 2012 CA Petite Sirah Taste-Off, reporting on the results of the second and third rounds of the single-elimination, sixteen-bottle tourney. Click here for background on the bizarre genesis of this thing, and the results of the first round (if you missed it, please read it, because the rest of this isn’t gonna make a whole lot of sense until you do).

I’m not going to lie, after round one I was starting to regret picking Petite Sirah as the variety of choice for this tasting experiment. Mostly because I looked like something from The Black Lagoon, with purple hands, purple fingernails, purple lips, purple tongue, purple teeth.

On second thought, make that The Purple Lagoon… Anyway…

If we take price-point as a rough equivalent of potential “ranking”  (in terms of being a hint of a wine’s complexity and overall quality, which we all know it isn’t but ought to be, in Perfect World) then the first round of our tourney provided no real upsets, though did produce some close battles that wouldn’t have been suggested by the differences in SRPs between the contenders.

I found that surprising, because I was convinced there would be an upset at some point. And the second round of bouts, thankfully, didn’t let me down. Following are the results of Rounds Two and Three…

—- Round Two —-

2009 Vinedos Aurora Petite Sirah (Lodi, $21) vs.
2007 Seven Artisans Clayton Road Ranches Vineyard Petite Sirah (Suisun Valley, $18)

The Vinedos was the prettier wine, no doubts there. It had a bit more lift, as well – it’s just a really well-made, drinkable wine, certainly one of the food-friendliest of the entire field of sixteen. Going down to the buzzer, though, the 7 Artisans pulled it out with its extra depth, power and – more importantly, I thought – long-term potential.

Winner: 2007 Seven Artisans, once again pretty much by the skin of its (brooding) grapes!

2007 Clayhouse Petite Sirah (Paso Robles, $23) vs.
2007 Stanton Vineyards Petite Sirah (St. Helena, $40)

Two similar wines in a lot of ways, and another close battle. Pound for pound, these were probably the meatiest (literally, as in smoked meat and game notes) wines of the elite eight lineup. In the end… the Stanton’s additional complexity and balance give it enough to edge out its rival from Paso.

Winner: 2007 Stanton Vineyards because it’s kind of like drinking bacon, but in the most awesome way possible.

2007 Draconis “Classic” Petite Sirah (Lodi, $30) vs.
2009 Frank Family Vineyards SJ Vineyard Reserve Petite Sirah (Napa Valley, $65)

The silky, sexy, leather-&-spice of Draconis? Or the floral, big-bold tension of the Frank? The Draconis played way over its price-point in this one; it’s a hell of a wine, and one that I personally loved to drink up later after the tourney was over, and it put up an inspired fight against a wine that out-prices it by more than a factor of two. But the Frank was just a hair better on the day.

Winner: 2009 Frank Family Vineyards, though I have a feeling that on another day, the Draconis could have been drinking well enough to beat it, and it’s a wine I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to PS lovers.

2007 Huntington CA Series Petite Sirah (CA, $14) vs.
2006 Robert Biale “Royal Punishers” Petite Sirah (Napa Valley, $40)

This was… a blowout. Sorry, but there was no just real contest here, and the Biale lived up to its name by delivering punishing blow after punishing blow of grip, complexity, mouthfeel, you-name-it to the thoroughly outmatched Huntington, which just had too simple of a game plan.

2006 Robert Biale “Royal Punishers” coasts to victory, without really breaking a sweat.


—-Round Three—-

2007 Stanton Vineyards Petite Sirah (St. Helena, $40)  vs.
2007 Seven Artisans Clayton Road Ranches Vineyard Petite Sirah (Suisun Valley, $18)

What’s with this upstart Seven Artisans? It plays so much bigger, bolder and complex than the $18 for which it asks from your bank account. But not all Cinderella stories have happy endings in the world of competition, and when faced with the power and silkiness of the Stanton, Seven Artisans’ storybook run finally met its closing chapter.

Winner: 2007 Stanton Vineyards – in this bout, it’s a bit of the evil dream-killer, but its place in the tourney is completely merited; this is a large wine, but a complete one, and it’s large without losing the soul of what Petite Sirah is all about.

2006 Robert Biale “Royal Punishers” Petite Sirah (Napa Valley, $40) vs.
2009 Frank Family Vineyards SJ Vineyard Reserve Petite Sirah (Napa Valley, $65)

No matter what, the finals were now going to come down to a battle of Napa Valley heavyweights. This will seem inevitable to some, disappointing to others, but the results are the results. Was Biale punishing enough? In this finals round, not quite – the two heavyweights battle one another with aplomb, grace and power, but the prettiness of the Frank’s florals carry it through to victory.

Winner: 2009 Frank Family Vineyardsbattered, bloodied, but unbowed!

Feel proud, Napa Valley! Like the highly-seated Midwestern teams that graced the NCAA finals this year, the favorites  (based on pedigree and price-point, anyway) are both your homeboys and are both headed to the finals! Click here for the updated bracket.

A Champion is crowned tomorrow… it’s the 2009 Frank Family Vineyards vs. the 2007 Stanton Vineyards in a battle for Napa bragging rights. Stay tuned…!






  • zinlifgal

    On the edge of my seat….I too, would crown Draconis, but alas, I'm eagerly awaiting the championship Napa finale…Where's my peroncini-nachos?

    • 1WineDude

      zinlifgal – if you get some of those, send some along my way! :)

  • Tom Nicholson

    From your comments, I'm guessing the complexity of the Stanton will win! But maybe its just that they seem to have a more sophisticated name??? Either way, both of these wines are looking like they'd be a winner at my house.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Tom – hadn't thought about the name sophistication (doesn't bode well for my own brand name, does it? ;-).

      • Tom Nicholson

        well for some people the name might not mean much (like if they tend to only try stuff that is recommended by smart folks like you). But I'm a bit of a wine newbie so I hate to admit i allow names to influence me more than I should when trying wines.

        • 1WineDude

          Tom – witness the power of marketing! :)

  • Joel Ohmart

    Too bad Lodi didn't make it to the nail biting finally, and yes, I may have been able to predict these results; but like you said they are what they are. None the less, I was thoroughly entertained and informed of some smashing PS (don't know why I turned British right there for a second). Positively smashing sir, I doff my cap to you and your purple teeth!

    • 1WineDude

      Joel – cheers, mate! :)

  • gabe

    Was surprised to see wines from Lodi, Paso, and Suisun Valley do so well in the tourney. But in the end, I guess Napa is still Napa. Would love to see a Zinfandel tourney, where all of California could be on display, but I don't know if your poor purple teeth could survive.

    Great tourney, can't wait to see the grande finale

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Gabe – anything is possible for the future of these, so all suggestions are welcome.

  • David Rossi

    Love the format Dude. Will you expand the field to 68 wines next time?

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, David. What, are you trying to kill me?!?? :)

  • Rusty Eddy

    Great idea, Jo! Glad the Clayhouse made it at least to round two :-)

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Rusty! Everyone has been great sports about this, there will definitely be more tournaments in the future.

    • jodiaz

      Me, too!

  • jodiaz

    What a complicated week you gave yourself… How's the enamel on your teeth, BTW?

    • 1WineDude

      Jo – disappearing at an alarming rate, probably! :)

      • jodiaz

        When we had our US "Blue Tooth Tour" a few years ago, we handed out tooth brushes. People would smile at me and I'd say, "You want to use it… go to the ]name the gender] room and check it out!"

        • 1WineDude


  • MichelleY

    Disappointed no Clarksburg PS was in the mix. Next time!?

    • 1WineDude

      Michelle – have them send me some! :)

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