Wine: Line 39 Petite Sirah
Grapes: petite sirah (80 percent), syrah (10 percent), merlot (10 percent)
Region: North Coast, California
In the glass: Line 39 Petite Sirah is as dense and black as the night with an inky-purple core going out into a deep purple rim definition with medium-high painted viscosity.
On the nose: It is nothing short of a black fruit bomb with immensely concentrated blueberry, marionberry and crushed huckleberries, then meaty black cherries and toasted oak. There are hints of roasted meat, lead pencil and phenolic compounds, but it is decidedly fruit-driven rather than earthy.
On the palate: This wine is a monster orgy of blueberry in the purest sense of the fruit, with such extraction and concentration that it is almost chewable. But it is not heavy and overbearing, rather very fruit-laden and delicious actually, with just touches of spice and wood going through the midpalate and into a nice and surprisingly light finish.
Odds and ends: Petite sirah is one of the more interesting grape varieties. Originally, it was a blending grape variety from the Rhone Valley in France and was never used or intended as a single grape for a wine. Given the ideal growing conditions for petite sirah in parts of California, it makes sense to produce a wine as full-bodied and delicious as Line 39. The very name of the wine and the winery comes from the theory that the 39th Parallel runs through some fairly interesting vineyard regions in the world, such as Priorat in Spain, Macedonia in Greece and Liaoning in China, which is one of the 10 biggest in the world. Wines made from petite sirah tend to be extremely concentrated and heavy, yet this is medium-bodied in style and a real pleasure to taste and drink. If you’ve ever picked real blueberries in the wild in Maine, Oregon or Scandinavia, this is what they really taste like if mashed up and made into liqueur. Try this wine with a spice-rubbed rib-eye steak cooked medium-rare on the grill. Drink it now through 2014.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at email@example.com.