Nothing petite about this sirah

Buy enough cheap wine and you’ll occasionally get a discounted bottle that once retailed for a lot more.

There are a few clues that the bottle you are buying for $6.99 at Grocery Outlet is slumming, like this bottle of 2006 Eos Estate Petite Sirah, which must have felt like the debutante who somehow ended up at a seedy bar on the wrong side of town.

First, the primary image on the bottle is actual grapes. Not a race car, or a horse, or comically drawn woman. There’s no abstract art or clever play on words or big black birds. Just grapes.

Second, the winemaker’s own description contains something utterly ridiculous like “rose petals.” I’m here to tell you, red wine does not taste like rose petals. Ever.

Third, the back label will probably wax poetic about how special the wine is and how fortunate you are to have found it. One of the privileged few, for sure. Lucky you.

From the bottle: “This is our private reserve that we made to keep for ourselves and share with only our closest friends. We tenderly nurtured selected fruits from the best vineyard blocks. The barrels were carefully chosen and immeasurable hours were spent to insure that this wine would surpass our highest expectations. After all that, we couldn’t resist sharing it with you.”


Now far be it for me to pass judgment on a wine because the vintner is full of himself. But it’s a little hard not to be critical when someone involved in a process that was taking place when the world was flat takes themselves so damn seriously. Paso Robles is in California’s Central Valley where Spanish missionaries bent on converting the natives were the first to plant grapevines, and commercial wineries have operated here since the 1880s.

But before we get all uppity about the history of grapes here, Petite Sirah is something of a mongrel, being the result of Syrah pollen getting all up in the business of a Peloursin plant. The resulting Durif grapes are popular and widely planted. They usually produce wines with mild, plummy overtones.

You’ll find little of that here.

Eos Estate’s website lists this wine at $25. For that price, it would be a disappointment, but for seven bucks, this is a decent, if unremarkable wine. Both the initial aroma and taste are straightforward and strong, with grape being the dominant flavor, accompanied by plum and blackberry.

The wine started with a sharpness expected of a younger vintage, but aerating and allowing it to breathe smoothed out the flavors and allowed more of the fruit to come forward. It was still a very strong wine, spicy and heady, with lingering tannins. It’s a wine suited to a rich meal, but without the sweet temperament to balance spicy foods like barbecue or Mexican food.

And let’s face it, the bottle looks impressive, with its luscious European-looking grapes behind square latticework. It’s a nice wine to have on the counter if you are looking to impress someone. It also makes a nice gift for the host next time you are invited to a dinner party.

And even better, it’s a wine you won’t mind sharing.

Aromatique: Strong grape aroma, with oak and a bit of plum.

Sip Quips: Grapes dominate, especially on the first sip, but plum and berries come out as it breathes; plenty of tannins on the finish.

Kitchen Couplings: Roasted meats or fish; hearty bread and cheese.

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