When it comes to New World wines, and especially wines from the United States of America, Napa Valley is something of a standard bearer. Over its relatively short history, it has managed to transform itself from being a fairly insignificant region, to becoming one of the most important and highly regarding wine locations on earth. With an ideal climate for viticulture, blazing sunshine and a low level of rainfall, this valley is shielded on many sides by mountain ranges which help it maintain a consistent level of heat, light and moisture throughout the year. Today, Napa Valley is a home of innovation and quality, with dozens of grape varietals thriving in the fertile soils. However, the main varietals grown there have always been Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Zinfandel, and the wines they produce are constantly lauded by critics and competitions across the globe.
Petite Sirah was first brought from France to America in the 1880s. It later went on to become one of the only grapes to make it through the devastating Phylloxera virus in the 1890s, both World Wars, and the Great Depression. During Prohibition, it was a main ingredient used to make sacramental wines. In fact, through the 1960s it was a major blending grape in a number of the finest wines produced in California.
By itself, a bottle of Petite Sirah usually has no problem making a quick impression on consumers. With a large amount of natural color and tannins, wines made with the grape commonly feature intensive sweet fruit characteristics like fresh raspberry or blackberry jam, black pepper spice, and plenty of backbone or structure.
There are a number of different styles available. Some concentrate on highlighting fresh, fruity flavors; others are bigger, more voluptuous; and it keeps going up the ladder until you reach the powerful, more machismo-style category.