Petite Sirah, or Petite Syrah, was originally grown in France in the 1800s. It’s become popular due to its full-bodied flavours of berries, chocolate and black pepper and its deep colour. Surprisingly, there are only around 10,000 acres of Petite Syrah worldwide, with most of it in the US, California, making it one of the least grown grapes out there.
Now, the name sounds familiar to another grape variety, doesn’t it? Despite popular beliefs, Petite Sirah is not a more “petite” version of Syrah. Instead, it’s a distinct grape variety, an offspring of Syrah and Peloursin. Never heard of Peloursin? That’s completely fine as the grape is nearly extinct, with only a handful of villages growing it in the French-Alps.
Alright, what is the Petite Syrah grape variety exactly? First of all, the grape is actually called Durif after the French botanist Francois Durif who created it in his greenhouse in the 1860s. A few years later, it was brought to California, where winemakers noticed how many similar features it had with Syrah. Instead of naming it Durif, which they thought didn’t sound very attractive, they named it Petite Sirah.
These days, most of the wine from Petite Sirah is produced in California and Israel. Some wine professionals often refuse to acknowledge it as it’s “not established enough.” California producers fight back by promoting, educating and legitimizing Petite Sirah as a noble grape, with emphasis on its terroir uniqueness.
The grape isn’t grown for long term aging because the acidity rapidly declines for the first seven years. A handful of producers managed to make some outstanding Petite Sirah that will age for 10-20 years, but that’s not commonly practiced. When it comes to value, you have everything you could ask for with your money. Unlike a pricey bottle of Pinot Noir or Cab Sauv, Petite Sirah is often affordable, with most bottles sold in the $20-40 range.
If you’d like to try this excellent wine, buy a bottle of Petite Sirah at the ZYN retail store in Calgary, Alberta, Canada or shop online at ZYN.ca!