The inky, impressively structured Petite Sirah grape often conjures up images of massive, monolithic wines with more tannin than complexity. However, when given a gentler extraction regime and picked at a level of ripeness that preserves the grape’s natural acidity, the resulting wine can exhibit a perfumed complexity that complements the variety’s full-bodied character. The 2016 was fermented 100% whole cluster, and
the cool season allowed sugars to be well in check and preserved the natural acidity.
The resultant wine shows Petite’s classic blue-and-black fruit, but also flashes exotic notes of citrus peel and violets. True to form, the Petite Sirah is my fullest-bodied wine.
Vineyard: The Leeds family has farmed their ranch in Rutherford since 1926, and the vineyard has a history of being planted to Petite Sirah that dates back to the 1880s. The head-trained West block was planted in 2007 to a classic Napa Valley combination: Hayne clone on St. George. Immaculately maintained by vineyard owner Frank Leeds and his daughter Lauren Pesch, the block is both dry-farmed and certified organic.
Winemaking: 0.98 ton of Petite Sirah was hand-harvested on September 8th, 2016 in excellent condition. After sorting, all grapes were tossed into a single 1-ton fermentation bin without destemming. Whole-cluster fermentation was perfect, proceeding under the strength of indigenous yeasts and lasting less than a week, though temperatures were moderate. Daily foot-stompings provided gentle extraction. The 2016 was aged in two neutral barrels for 36 months before being bottled without filtration on October 23rd, 2019.