On Tuesday, July 31st at the Martinelli Event Center in the Livermore Valley Wine Country, all things big, rich, dark, spicy, and fruity were discussed at the tenth annual Petite Sirah Symposium. As guests were seated, Jim & John Concannon, members of one of the founding families in California wine, introduced and welcomed guests from near and afar. Wineries represented were Nottignham, Occasio, Roadrunner Ridge, David Caffaro, Clayhouse Cellars, Barro, Vina Robles, Saddleback, Fenestra, Concannon, Aver, Foppiano, Diamond Ridge, and Mounts Family. Proceeding the introduction, Evan Goldstein, author of “Daring pairings: MS Matches Distinctive Wine with Recipes” gave a warm speech about the keynote grape. He noted that even though Petite Sirah is not for everyone, it is a grape that stirs emotions, is unique, and is one of the only wines that works well with cheese!
Joyce Goldstein, Evan’s mother and one of the great chefs of California, wrapped up the symposium with some thoughts about pairing this big wine with food. She said that with the current trends of lighter more vegetable oriented meals that lean towards ethnic, she thought that many Petite Sirah’s would do quite well with Greek (stews), Korean (short rib), Spanish (beef stews), French (steak and foie gras), Italian (marinated lamb chops), Brazilian (smoked meats), Persian (stews with dried fruits), Russian (Borscht), and Turkish (smoked eggplant). Basically, pair them with dishes that contain parallel flavors found in Petite Sirah: nutmeg, cloves, anise, Chinese 5 spice, and cinnamon, for example.
The symposium commenced with a lovely BBQ lunch at Concannon Vineyards underneath a grape arbor next to sweeping views of vineyards and the Livermore valley countryside. John Concannon was presented with the Phenomenal Service Award, an award given to those that demonstrate selfless service for Petite Sirah. After lunch, guests were escorted into the expansive wine cellar and treated to an array of Petite Sirah’s from California. Flavors ranged from oaky and spicy, to fruit forward with the complexity spectrum ranging from soft to quite pronounced. But, the 1965 Concannon Petite Sirah passed around during lunch was the star of the show!
Petite Sirah Standouts:
2008 Fenestra, Petite Sirah, Livermore Valley
2010 Nottingham, Petite Sirah, Livermore Valley
2009 Occasio, Petite Sirah, Livermore Valley
2009 Michael Dave, Earthquake, Petite Sirah, Lodi
2008 Aver Family Vineyards, Petite Sirah, Santa Clara Valley