EXQUISITE: 2008 Girard Petite Sirah (89% Petite Sirah, 8% Zinfandel, 2% Mourvedre, 1% Grenache), Napa Valley. $22-30, available for as little as $17.99. 14.5% ABV.

Once again, a “weighted blend” has won my heart. (In the U.S., a wine can be labeled a varietal, i.e. Petite Sirah, if it consists of 75% or more of that particular grape. However, it’s no secret that we find blends enchanting, usually with added complexity, sometimes some intriguing subduing/taming, and sometimes bright top notes as well.)

Anyhow, the Girard 2008 Petite Sirah is just delicious and has become one of our house wines. We’ve enjoyed several bottles of it—with and without friends, with and without food, with and without other wines to compare it with—and have never questioned our choice to include it among the top tier of our “best-ofs.”

It shows brilliant and clear: ruby/garnet with pink edges, (temporarily) glass-staining pink legs, and wine crystals.

Anyhow, it’s full-bodied, powerful, expressive, and bright, with aromas of cherry, plum, and baking spices. Just delicious with cherry, black fruits, and a little cedar. Despite its power, it is simultaneously soft, with a mildly spicy and lingering finish.

Fermented in steel, it was barrel aged in both American (25%) and French (75%) oak, which further explains the complexity and elegant, tightly woven structure.

CONCLUSION: With 5,200 cases made, the 2008 is becoming more difficult to find. Run, do not walk, to obtain some. The 2009 has just been released—but like a new sports season, it’s a whole new ball game. The 2009 is 98% Petite Sirah and 2% Zinfandel, so it’s likely to be quite different from 2008. (Visit my Thanksgiving weekend post, “Vintage Matters,” to read about a couple of my recent bloopers while we’re on the subject. http://www.thefrugalwinesnob.com/?p=749)

LABEL NOTES: Our old vine Petite Sirah is a massively intense wine with inky jet blue and ruby red colors. The aroma is packed with blueberry, coffee, black cherry and lilac. The intense flavors are followed by a rich, complex middle and a silky smooth finish.

WINERY NOTES: Our 2008 vintage Petite Sirah is an inky, dark, fruit-forward wine with aromas of baked cherry pie, ripe plum, marzipan, anise and allspice; on the palate, there’s a wonderful balance of integrated, firm tannins and crisp acidity with a soft, spicy and lingering finish. The blend is 89% Petite Sirah, 8% Zinfandel, 2% Mourvedre and 1% Grenache. Total cases produced: 5,200.

On the Web site, winemaker Marco DiGiulio writes, “The grapes were hand-sorted and crushed to stainless steel fermentors. Pumpovers were done as gently as possible to avoid undesirable harsh tannin extraction. Pressed at dryness to 75% French and 25% American oak with a composition of 35% new oak for both barrel types. The vineyard sources for our 2008 Petite Sirah are: Godward Vineyard, Julianna Vineyard and Capp Vineyard. These vineyards contain mature vines, with the Godward vines being 100+ years old. The climate and soil types at each vineyard location are ideal for Petite Sirah viticulture.”

WEB: www.girardwinery.com

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