A Brief History of Petite Sirah
You Mean They’re Not the Same?
Once upon a time: Some guys bring a French grape named Syrah to California. They nickname it “Petite Syrah” after the lower yields that the vines produce in American soil. This didn’t last long, and today we call it Syrah, or Shiraz when it arrives on kangarooback (sometimes things just come out funny with an Australian accent).
A few years later: Some other guys bring over another French grape called Durif. Once in California, either for marketing reasons (Syrah was wildly popular at the time) or because of its smaller fruit, growers start calling it Petite Sirah.
About a hundred years later: The wine smarties at UC Davis perform a DNA analysis and discover that:
1. Petite Sirah is exactly the same as Durif (a la zucchini and courgettes, eggplant and aubergine, Clark Kent and French Superman),
2. Petite is the genetic result of a cross-pollination between Syrah and Peloursin, and
3. Therefore, both grapes are noble Rhone varietals
Today: Although “Pet” is something of a cult classic (think, Pulp Fiction in dark red) it remains generally unknown and unappreciated.
So my challenge to you all for today is go out and give Petite Sirah a try. See if you don’t fall for her inky, teeth-staining color, voluptuous berries, spicy pepper and bold tannins. And if you don’t, well, que syrah sirah.