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High Scoring, NATURAL, Petite Sirah: A Rarity from the Cellar

Did you know that many large production Cabs and Merlots have Petite Sirah blended in (although, it’s rarely mentioned on the label)? This is because it is a work horse varietal with immense tannin, structure and shockingly deep color. It only makes sense that this extraordinary purple grape finds its way into weaker wines to add some depth, color and punch. Luckily, here at Balistreri we nearly always bottle Petite Sirah alone because it stands up very well to our natural style of winemaking.

I go as far to say that my grandpa makes some of the very best examples of naturally made Petite Sirah you will find anywhere in the world!

Unlike other producers, we often prefer our Petite Sirah fermented whole cluster (with stems), and aged in neutral barrels. This is because we believe overt oak adds too much sweetness to an already ripe and fruit forward varietal. Furthermore, the stems (which we leave in during the fermentation) add delicate aromatics and spice that are otherwise lost with too much oak or processing.

2018 Colorado Petite Sirah
91 Points by Wine Enthusiast!
September 2020 Issue

“The nose of this wine is loaded with cracked black pepper, cherry and black raspberry aromas. The palate is juicy in cherry and pomegranate flavors, with intense notes of clove and black pepper chiming in while the tannins offer a velvety texture. The finish is all tart cranberry and mulling spices.”

Most of you already know that Petite Sirah is John Balistreri’s favorite grape. Indeed, I would say that my grandpa makes some of the best examples of naturally made Petite Sirah you will find anywhere in the world! In fact, we just received an excellent score from Wine Enthusiast on the 2018 Colorado Petite Sirah which you can check out above. To celebrate this, we thought it would be fun to pull an older bottle from our cellar to compare the two… So, in addition to the 2018, we also have the 2012 Colorado Petite for sale on the website!

This 2018 Petite Sirah is one of our most aromatic and captivating wines we’ve made.

So what tasting notes should you look for in these? Well, they are actually quite different. This is due not only to the age difference, but the vineyards themselves. Our 2018 grapes were grown by Bruce Talbott in Palisade and is an especially unique and interesting vintage. Yes, it has the power and structure we all have come to expect from Petite Sirah, but 2018 shows a vibrancy and freshness that is atypical for the varietal. Blue and black fruit notes explode from the glass, while gorgeous spice notes of black pepper, star anise, and tobacco capture and keep your attention. Rich and full bodied, this Petite Sirah somehow maintains a sense of freshness and playfulness; it’s a big wine, but it’s fun and easy drinking despite its serious nature.

The 2012 on the other hand comes from a vineyard site a short distance North of Talbott along the Colorado River in Palisade. Tasting an older vintage like this really proves that Petite can pay dividends in the cellar. Right away, this wine commands your attention with captivating aromas of stewed berries, soft cream and subtle spice. On the palate, the fruit flavors are fully developed and seamlessly transition into a silky subtle finish. At nearly 10 years old, this is just now starting to unwind and certainly has the tannin structure to keep going. Honestly, I would put this wine up against any Napa Cab and if you are into full, luscious wine it cannot be missed.

I won’t reveal which one of these Petite’s I like the best, but it’s a difficult choice! In hopes that everyone try these two wines, we’ve decided to extend the Wine Club Discount to these bottles and all of our library wines online. That’s right! Wine Club gets 20% off on any bottle available through our website including these library wines. I would love to see your tasting notes on these bottles! If you have any questions, please email us at

Mason Balistreri

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