Only the second time we've tasted these as a group (the first was in March 2007), this tasting resulted in some impressive values at the top of the ranking, with many of the entries exhibiting similar dark fruit and licorice notes often found in this varietal.
First Place: Vina Robles Petite Sirah Estate 2010 (Paso Robles). Opaque. A bit shy initially, but once it opened up, tasters found aromas of blackberries, ink, red hots, spun sugar, and smoke. Ali detected "a bit of skunk", with others finding sweet cream and toasted bread notes. Ali felt that it "tastes dark pink". Very well-balanced, featuring flavors of white pepper, blackberries, and other dark fruits. A slight tannic bite at the end. Everyone except for Ali voted for this as their favorite wine, for a total of 34 points. David's bottle. About $22.
Second Place: McManis Family Vineyards Petite Sirah 2012 (California). Opaque and looked thick. The nose offered complex scents of blackberries, prunes, ink, root beer, eucalyptus, butterscotch, cinnamon, cherry, burnt sugar, mint, and Pine Sol. Grows in the mouth, starting off slow, but reveals more flavor with air. Tasters found hints of basement to go with the flavors of black licorice, beets, burnt sugar, and assorted berries. Dense texture, getting more candied with air. Well-balanced. Ali's favorite of the night, but received votes from everyone, for a total of 25. Kristin's bottle. The best value, at about $10.
Third Place: David Bruce Petite Sirah 2010 (Central Coast). Tasters were reminded of cream, plastic, tomato paste (including the can), something fecal, overripe fruit, and mint chewing gum. Andy noticed "inner tube", while Josephine found "artificial candy cream". Flavors of cherry cola, with an alcoholic, fecal attack, turning to coffee and green pepper notes. David was reminded of "damp forest floor". Just this side of candied, with a more tart finish, but also most improved of the night. Received votes from everyone, for a total of 19. Josephine's bottle. About $24.
Retro Petite Sirah 2008 (Howell Mountain). Cherry, black tea, and floral scents, but also something automotive. Ali noted that it "smells like the auto section", with Josephine feeling "like I just walked into Sears with my mother". Reminiscent of something masculine, tires, and wood. David found scents of "smoking ember" and felt that it was intriguing. Flavors of car tires, black licorice, and refined petroleum products. Andy described "licked battery". Tannic. Received 5 points. Hartwell's bottle. About $42.
Spellbound Petite Sirah 2012 (California). Buttered popcorn, something sour, caramel, and bell peppers on the nose. David was very skeptical of this one, saying, "I'm scared of it", while Andy was reminded of "a dirty movie theater". Tasted candied, like artificial sweetener. Hartwell felt it was reminiscent of "Kool-Aid" and "watered down Welch's", and David summed up with "front-loaded and simple". Ali noted that "this is the second one that turns my stomach", and Andy was reminded of "apple cider vinegar". Watery. Received one point from Hartwell. Andy's bottle. About $13.
Line 39 Petite Sirah 2012 (North Coast). Kristin felt that it smelled like "something in the garden" which others described as tomato plant, while others noticed "body odor at 4:00", as well as damp cardboard and aluminum. David summed up the nose, calling it "not attractive". Tasted like tomato plant, with a thin texture, and showing flavors of cottage cheese, something green, and also medicinal. Josephine felt that it "tastes like water colors smell", while Hartwell described it as "artificial grapefruit juice". Ali was the most damming, noting that it "tastes like puke to me". Vanishes quickly, with no presence. No points. Ali's bottle. About $13.