The Petite Sirah grape is known in France as Durif. In the 1880s Dr. François Durif created a hybrid by cross-pollinating Peloursin and Syrah—and named it after himself. Both of these grape varieties are native to the Rhône Valley in France, and both produce high-octane, dark, inky wines—resulting in big, full-bodied reds that are not for weak-kneed wine drinkers. Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard’s winemaker extraordinaire, Jeff Emery, prefers to call his Petit Sirah by its “real” name—Durif—and not the name that was given to the Durif grape—Petit Sirah—when it was shipped over to California from France. “There is no such thing as Petit Sirah in France,” says Emery. “We are just strange and iconoclastic enough to insist on calling this grape by its real name.”
Emery has been turning out splendid wines for some years now—the Durif being one of them. It recently won a gold medal at the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association Commercial Wine Competition, along with a gold for his Grenache, and three silvers and a bronze for other wines.
Emery also generously supports the community. I actually tasted his Durif at the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit’s Gourmet Grazing on the Green fundraiser in Aptos Village Park last month. He laughed when he poured me some to try, saying I was one of the few asking for red wine on what was a scorching hot day. But I love the wines of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard and just had to try this new release of Durif. This delectable wine is made from grapes grown in McDowell Valley Vineyard in Mendocino County from vines that were planted in 1948.
As you can imagine, this wine goes perfectly well with barbecue. When a friend invited us over for a simple dinner of Corralitos Market’s famous sausages cooked on the grill, I took along a bottle of the Durif ($18 bottle). Its black pepper spiciness, hints of rose petals and wood smoke boast big, bold flavors. Add to that the seductive dark fruit of blueberries and blackberries and you have a gorgeous wine indeed.
Santa Cruz Mountain Winery and Quinta Cruz, 334-A Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 426-6209. SantaCruzMountainVineyard.com. Tasting: Wednesday through Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 16: Juice vs. Finished. Surf City Vintners on Ingalls Street will have fresh grape juice to compare with the finished product from noon to 5 p.m.
Vine Hill Winery will be celebrating autumn with its third annual Fall Wine & Music Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 16 & 17 from noon to 5 p.m. Wines by the glass: $6. Box lunches: $8. Bottle Your Own Wine: $20. Info: Vine Hill Winery, 2300 Jarvis Road, Santa Cruz, 427-0436. vinehillwinery.com.
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