Petite Sirah Wine Ratings, Reviews and Basics | Wine Enthusiast
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Wine Grape Varietals 101

Petite Sirah

What is Petite Sirah

Pronunciation: peh-TEET sir-ah

Petite Sirah is a red wine grape variety used widely in California and narrowly elsewhere for blending with other grape varieties, and less often as a single-varietal wine. Petite Sirah is a thin-skinned blue-black grape variety, susceptible to powdery mildew, and ripening in the mid-to-late harvest season. It is moderately productive, with medium-size clusters.

The grapes are used largely for dry red wines, sometimes for Port-style wines, and particularly as a component in red blends in California. Petite Sirah was the sixth most widely planted red-wine variety in California in 2021, accounting for more than 11,000 acres.

Known as Durif in France where it originated, Petite Sirah is genetically related to Syrah and is known for producing wines with high levels of tannin and color. That is why winemakers value it as a blender with varieties lighter in color and lower in tannin, such as Merlot and Zinfandel.

Petite Sirah Synonyms

In France it is known as Durif, Dure, Duret, Pinot de Romans, Pinot de l’Hermitage, Plant Fourchu, Nerin or Gros Noir. In California, it can be known as Petite Syrah.

Petite Sirah Regions

Petite Sirah grapes are most widely grown in California. Petite Sirah can be featured as a varietal wine in California regions such as Lodi, Sierra Foothills, Livermore, Paso Robles and Santa Barbara. Smaller amounts of Petite Sirah grapes are grown in Australia and South America.

Petite Sirah Tasting Notes

Petite Sirah enjoys a small cult following for its dark, dense and tooth-staining color. It has a plump blueberry and dark chocolate flavors and a notoriously thick texture. Traditional examples have needed 10 or more years of aging to soften their textures, but winemakers recently have tamed much of the tannin for earlier enjoyment.

Petite Sirah grapes are found in red, and dessert wines.

Structural Characteristics

Low Medium High
Alcohol levels
Low Medium High
Low Medium High
Tannin Structure
Low Medium High

Examples of Petite Sirah to Try

Handling Tips

60-68°F / 16-20°C
5-15 years

Fun Facts

  • Botanist Francois Durif discovered the grape variety Petite Sirah in France in the 19th century, and it became known there as Durif in his honor.
  • When planted in California beginning in the 1880s, growers called it Petite Sirah. In the 1990s, DNA fingerprinting at the University of California, Davis proved that Durif derived from a crossing of Syrah and the southern French variety Peloursin.
  • Concannon Vineyard in Livermore Valley, California claims to be the first to bottle Petite Sirah as a single varietal. That was in 1961.