Monthly Archives: May 2011

Is Petite Sirah the Same as Syrah?

Question from Cheryl: Is Petite Sirah the same as Syrah?

Reply: Hi, Cheryl. Thanks for writing! They’re not the same, but they’re related. Dr. Carole Meredith, of UC Davis, used DNA comparison to determine that two varieties of southern France, the very ancient Syrah and a grape called Peloursin are the parents of Petite Sirah.  

Syrah is such an old variety that it may be that Julius Caesar enjoyed a goblet of Syrah, in his time, just as much as we do, today! Peloursin is almost unknown in California and isn’t considered a particularly distinguished variety in France. 

In the 1870s a man named Durif made this crossing with the hope that he’d have a mildew-resistant version of Syrah. Petite Sirah is still known as Durif in southern France. What he got was a variety that does have better mildew resistance, but also happens to be quite vulnerable to bunch rot. It’s a tight-clustered variety that really wasn’t well suited to the growing conditions there. 

However – in warm, dry climates, like ours here in northern California, it does quite well! It was introduced, here, in 1878.  

For a long time Petite Sirah has been viewed as a lesser step child of Syrah. It was used as a blender for any red that wanted more pigment and tannin. It’s gaining in popularity, almost by the day, and it even has its own fan club! Check http://www.psiloveyou.org/ to learn more about it.  Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What if My Wine is Hazy?


hazy_WE.mp3

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why Does One Wine Cost Five Dollars and Another One Fifty?


five_WE.mp3

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What if My Wine is Hazy?


hazy_sfgate1.mp3

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why Does One Wine Cost Five Dollars and Another One Fifty?


five_sfgate.mp3

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why Does One Wine Cost Five Dollars and Another One Fifty?


five_sfgate.mp3

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What is Malolactic Fermentation?

Question from Sally: I was at a tasting room at a winery and when the guy at the bar served the Chardonnay he said “40% M L”. I was too intimidated to ask what that means.

Reply: Hello, servers and barristas everywhere – stuff like this is what steers people toward beer! Be helpful and kind to your customers or get a new job description!

OK, I’ve stepped down from the soap box…

ML is short for malolactic fermentation. This normally follows the primary, alcoholic fermentation so sometimes it’s called the second fermentation. It’s actually a conversion, but whatever.

It’s routine for reds, for the sake of stability and to soften the acid. When it comes to whites, it’s more of a question mark and when people talk about ML it’s usually in reference Chardonnay. This is the technique that makes your Chardonnay buttery. Here’s how it goes:

It takes the wine maker about three weeks to make his Chardonnay. Then, lactic-acid bacteria is added to the new wine. It causes the tart malic acid – the green apple acid, to convert to soft lactic acid – the milk acid. So the wine feels softer on your palate.  ML also has a byproduct, called diacetyl, which adds a sort of viscous, oily sensation to the texture and smells and tastes buttery. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized