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Vasco Urbano Brunswick Petite Sirah 2014
A warm sub-appellation of the greater San Francisco Bay AVA (American Viticultural Area), Livermore Valley mainly hides behind the shielding effects of the bay’s eastern hills. However, its west to east orientation makes it unique among northern California wine growing regions. When summer daytime heat rises from the Central Valley to its east, this pulls the cold, foggy, bay air inland. This cooler air permeates the coastal range and creeps into Livermore Valley's foothills. Late afternoon winds cool down summer nights, making this an ideal environment for the development of phenolic ripeness and concentration in its wine grapes.
Aside from the favorable climate, Livermore Valley's soils of gravel and rocks provide excellent drainage for vineyards.
The Livermore Valley is one of California's oldest wine regions and has played a crucial role in shaping California's wine industry. Its wine growing history dates back farther than most. Spanish missionaries planted the first wine grapes in the Livermore Valley as far back as the 1760s. Then in the mid 1800s, a man named Robert Livermore planted the area’s first commercial vineyards. Winemaker pioneer C. H. Wente arrived a few years later; today the Wente Chardonnay clone is the source of a majority of California Chardonnay. Furthermore, James Concannon and the Wetmore brothers recognized the virtues of the area’s Bordeaux-like gravel soils and dedicated themselves to making high quality wine from Bordeaux varieties. Today the area is also known for high quality Petite Sirah.
With its deep color, rich texture, firm tannins and bold flavors, there is nothing petite about Petite Sirah. The variety, originally known as Durif in the Rhône, took on its more popular moniker when it was imported to California from France in 1884. Despite its origins, it has since become known as a quintessentially Californian grape, commonly utilized as a blending partner for softer Zinfandel and other varieties, but also finds success as a single varietal wine. It thrives in warmer spots, such as Lodi, Sonoma and Napa counties.
In the Glass
Petite Sirah wines are typically deep, dark, rich and inky with concentrated flavors of blueberry, plum, blackberry, black pepper, sweet baking spice, leather, cigar box and chewy, chocolaty tannins.
Petite Sirah’s full body and bold fruit make it an ideal match for barbecue, especially brisket with a slightly sweet sauce or other rich meat dishes. The variety’s heavy tannins call for protein-rich and strong flavors that can stand up to the wine.
Don’t get Petite Sirah confused with Syrah—it is not, as the name might seem to imply, a smaller version of Syrah. It is, however, the offspring of Syrah (crossed with an obscure French variety called Peloursin), so the two grapes do share some genetic characteristics despite being completely distinct.