Well, it’s the time of the year where wine tasting events pop up all over California, covering all kinds of grape varietals. Some are wide spread, but others are more focused, like Rhone Rangers (French Rhone varietals), ZAP for the Zinfandel lovers and then a number of events for the fans of Pinot Noir (Pinot in the City, Pinot Days). All of which are typically attended by huge crowds. I attend some of these, but my favorite is for a lesser known grape with smaller crowds. I attend an event that has maybe 500 people at most and brings together 40 to 50, and sometimes more producers of the Big Dog, better known to some of us wine geeks as Petite Sirah. Curious??? Are you a fan of the Big Dog or would like to be? Please read on and see if you may want to join us next year at “Dark and Delicious 2015”.
On the evening of February 21st, my girlfriend Lacy and I attended the 8th Annual “Dark and Delicious” event that celebrates the diverse stylings of Petite Sirah from all over California. This is the third year in a row I have been in attendance, enjoying the perfect combination of great wine, deliciously paired food and people with purple stained teeth. Housed under one roof in the barrel room of the Rockwall Winery Facility in Alameda, California, is an amazing event featuring Petite Sirah as the star attraction of the evening. The cast of wineries pouring this evening was stellar with more than 45 participants turning our teeth deep purple. You have the old guard Petite producers in Concannon, Fieldstone, Foppiano, Parducci and Trentadue, but then some of the newer faces on the block are well represented too such as Denier-Handal, Occasio, Miro Cellars, Mounts Family and Tres Sabores.
I’ll bet you are reading this and thinking, “Damn this is an evening of big, full bodied, tannic and potentially high alcohol wines, how can anyone taste much and not get overwhelmed”? Fortunately, the organizers are ahead of the game here, as the food line-up stood up to the wine producers with some great snacks to pair with the Big Dogs being poured. The food side of the event was well represented nicely by nearly 30 different vendors. Some of those wonderful folks matching their food with the Petites were Bert’s Desserts, Bonehead’s Texas BBQ, Chunk Pig, Fiscalini Cheese, Il Posta Trattoria, Montibella Sausage, Venga Paella, “What the Cake?” and Z Cioccolato. If you would like to see all of the wine and food producers check out the PS I Love you website at psiloveyou.org.
I’ve mentioned that there was great wine and food at “Dark and Delicious 2014”, as happens every year, but let’s talk about the people. Some of the “people” representing the various wineries can be well known or come from families that are. The host winery for the event, Rockwall Wine Company, was well represented by the Winemaker and President, Shauna Rosenblum, and her father Kent Rosenblum (former owner of Rosenblum winery). They were having fun greeting participants, pouring wine and telling stories. Shauna even led a great VIP tour of the Rockwall facility (one that I was able to tag along on). Including introducing us to a concoction made of Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine and Petite Sirah, surprisingly delicious and refreshing.
Shauna and Kent were the hosts, but there were many more primary players of various wineries. There was a blast from the past pouring at the event as well, as Montgomery Paulsen poured his family’s Pat Paulsen Winery Petite Sirah (yes, his father was that Pat Paulsen, from numerous comical campaigns for president). Monty, a character in his own right, was pouring the label that he now is the winemaker and owner for. Additionally, there were a number of other owners or winemakers (Some being both). Like Miro Tcholokav, the owner and winemaker of Miro Cellars (also winemaker at Trentadue), Rich and David Mounts from Mounts Family Vineyards plus John and Judy Monnich of Silkwood Wines. Each of these folks, like so many other too numerous to name, were very accessible to talk about their wine, vineyards, history and so much more. This added informational and educational opportunities for the evening along with the enjoyment of so many huge, lush Petites.
Overall, the evening was a success for the team from psiloveyou.org. Along with the tasting and food, a silent auction took place during the 3 hour Petite Sirah celebration. There were amazing wines and auction packages available, I’ll bet you are wondering how amazing! Well, I came home with two of the available lots, one a mixed case of Petites (a diverse kennel of Big Dogs), the second a vertical of wines from Denier-Handal Vineyards that when it was delivered to me, one of the owners invited us to a taste his wines on the front porch of his Dry Creek Valley home in Northern Sonoma County. Yes, I will be visiting him!!! So……….if you love the Big Dog, or if I caught your curiosity in the telling of this Dark and Delicious tale, join us next February and stain your teeth with the rest of us.
I know it has been a while since you all heard from me, but life has been busy in the last year. I have been given the title of Wine Educator and Assistant Tasting Room Manager for Martinelli Winery. Throw in judging for the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and a few other industry related opportunities, you can see life is busy. I promise though, to make time to get more writing done in the future, hopefully hooking up for some tasting with Eve Bushman and Michael Perlis for a team tasting if we can schedule it.
Before I bid you adieu, I do want share that there are some good events coming up in the SF Bay Area and Wine Country in the upcoming months. We have the Dry Creek Valley Passport Weekend (April 26-27), A Taste of Alexander Valley (May 17-18), Rhone Rangers (April 5-6), Passport to Pinot in the Russian River Valley May (24-25). Each of these are excellent events and you can easily find more information by searching them on the Internet if you are interested. I would also encourage you to keep up with the upcoming events posted regularly here at Eve’s Wine 101.
Just want to say thank you for following my adventures and encourage you to keep searching for the wines you love, whether they are from either your old favorites or from those new unknown creators of delicious wines. Remember, Life is Too Short to Drink Bad Wine!!!! Drink well and enjoy!