mcmanis petite sirahMcManis produces inexpensive wines that punch well above their price, and this is no exception.

The classic ripe blueberry fruit typical of Petite Sirah is there, encased in slightly smoky pencil shaving and sweet sandlewood aromas, quite enchanting, almost exotic.

The palate is rich and full with vanilla notes prominent and some sweetness evident. I don’t find the finish lovely. it’s puckering and woody. The acidity doesn’t seem high but the finish nevertheless turns a little sour. The tannins are soft and refined but persistent. The “tell” for cheap wines is always the finish.

Good intensity at a good price and if you like a little ruggedness on the finish you will be enchanted as well.

Long used as a blending grape to provide color and structure to other varietals in weak vintages, traditional Petite Sirah is massive, hard, and chewy with tannins that will rip your face off. Modern winemakers are learning how to tame it, and it is growing in popularity and acreage. Called Durif in France, It is a cross between Syrah and a little known grape called Peloursin, and first planted in the Rhone Valley in the 19th Century.

Score: 87

Price: $10

Alc: 13.5%

Pair with the most exotic of jazz pianists Abdullah Ibrahim who evokes whole African landscapes in a single chord, with the lovely Cape Town Flower (about 3 minutes into this video)