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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2007 Vines on the Marycrest Petite Sirah***
07VMPetiteSirah.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $32 @ the Winery 4/10/10
An opaque, ruby/purple colored wine with a deep nose of blackberry, currant, smoke and earth with hints of mocha and sweet spice. The aromas carry through onto the full-bodied palate that has fine, yet firm tannins and notes of minerals and vanilla on the medium-length finish. We decanted this wine for an hour and though pretty smooth and integrated for such a young Petite, I think it definitely needs at least another 6mos to a year in the bottle to really show its' full potential. The grapes all came from the Roberts Vineyard. To make it more approachable the juice was taken off the skins halfway through fermentation and was then aged in 30% new oak both French and American. (48 Cases/Wine Club Only)

2006 Cass Vineyards Petite Sirah***
cassPS.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $36 @ the Winery 11/17/08
An opaque, purple, teeth-coating wine with aromas of black fruit, earth, sweet spice and a hint of smoke and blackcurrant leaf. The palate is thick with ripe, dusty tannins and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, blueberry and notes of smoke, black pepper and sweet spice on the finish. Just released this wine took two days to really open and show its complexity. Once it did, it had lovely fruit, structure and balance, but this is a baby that needs at least another year or two in the bottle. An intense wine and one of the more complex PSs I've had in a long time.

Re-Tasted 12/26/10: While the older notes hold true, this wine is still a baby. Even after aerating it the first night, it was much improved on the second day. This one is a powerhouse of tannin and fruit. Would give it at least several hours in the decanter before plunging in or another year in the bottle.

2006 Clayhouse Winery Estate Petite Sirah**
06ClayhousePS.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $25 @ the Winery 8/27/10
An opaque, ruby/purple colored wine with a moderate nose of black fruit, earth, meat, pepper and sweet spice. The palate is full-bodied and well-balanced with finely integrated tannins that leave the wine fairly round with a medium-length finish. The flavors mirror the nose with the pepper and sweet spice adding some complexity to the ripe blackberry fruit. The grapes come from the Red Cedar Vineyard and the wine was aged for 18 months in 45% new Hungarian and French barrels with the balance in neutral French and American oak. The final blend includes small percentages of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah to add depth to the wine. At 14.5% abv, this is a big wine without the usual Paso alcoholic bite. Good QPR and varietal characteristics, especially for those unfamiliar with PS. Popped and poured, this was ready to go, but has enough structure and fruit to linger nicely for another year or two.

2006 Enkidu Wines Diener Ranch Petite Sirah***
06EnkiduPS.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Sonoma, CA $34 @ Winery 2/3/12
An opaque, purple colored wine with an enticing nose of black fruit, meat, earth and hints of licorice and sweet spice. At first taste it was still quite tight, so we aerated the wine, which helped to smooth out the tannins and open up the fruit. The palate is full-bodied and mouth-coating with dusty tannins and medium acidity. The flavors were of blackberry, plum, smoke, herbs and violet with notes of leather and vanilla on the lengthy finish. While a massive wine, it was very well-balanced and still hid its 15.6% abv quite well. Has great complexity for a Petite, though the fruit is on its way out. So though it's still tight, I wouldn't wait much longer to drink. Just decant for an hour or so. Was aged 18 months in French oak, 45% new. I fear it would overpower almost any food except a big, pepper steak. Or better yet, open it on a cold night next to a roaring fire, so you'll be warmed inside and out. Petite Sirah's are rarely inexpensive, and this one delivers very good quality for the price. Would buy again.

2005 Hidden Cellars Petite Sirah*
hiddencellarsPS.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Mendocino, CA $16 BevMo 1/18/08
A medium-bodied, ruby-colored wine with a muted nose of cherry and blackberry with some notes of sweet spice. The palate was soft, fruity and a bit rustic with a fairly short finish. Was somewhat disappointed in this version as it was quite one-dimensional and certainly not worth the price. It wasn't the worst wine in the world, but nothing very interesting either.

2005 Le Vigne di San Domenico Petite Sirah**
sanpetite.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $28 Fermentations 12/30/07
Spicy, inky dark, medium-bodied with soft tannins. The nose is dominated by aromas of ripe black cherry, which turn into blueberry and blackberry flavors on the palate with a hint of chocolate. Big, bold fruit dominates the medium finish. More elegant than most Petites and ready to drink now.

2005 Nadeau Family Vintners Petite Sirah**
NadeauPS.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $23 @ Winery 4/17/09
A deep, purple-colored wine with aromas of ripe brambly, black fruit, earth and spice. In fact, if I didn't know better I'd swear from the nose that this was a Zinfandel. The palate was intense and also very zin-like, except for the full-body and dusty tannins. The flavors were ripe blackberry and raspberry with notes of mocha and black pepper on the round, smooth finish. An intense wine that still needs some time to integrate its fruit and spice. Really enjoyable for the price, especially considering how expensive Petite's can be.

2005 Renwood Winery Petite Sirah*
renwoodPS.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Lodi, CA $15 BevMo 10/18/08
I bought this wine because I haven't had a PS in awhile and had no idea that Renwood, a winery that specializes in Zinfandel, even made one. What's odd is it's not listed anywhere on their website. Perhaps it's something they're only selling through BevMo. In any case, this wine is not as full-bodied as most Petite's with an earthy, brambly fruit nose with a hint of tar. The palate is medium-bodied with good acidity and dusty tannins with blackberry fruit, earth and bits of spice on the finish. After the upfront fruit, there isn't much going on in this wine. It's not terrible, just nothing special either and lacks the flavor punch usually found in this varietal.

2004 Chameleon Cellars Petite Sirah**
chameleon.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Napa Valley, CA $29 Private Tasting 3/14/08
A deep, purple-ruby colored wine with bright aromas of dark cherry, sweet spice, herbs and cedar. The palate is full-bodied with ripe blackberry, smoke and black pepper on the palate with big, chewy tannins and a medium, dusty finish. A big wine that needs time to open. A bit rustic and unbalanced for the price, but should get better in another year or two when it's fully integrated.

2004 Peachy Canyon Vineyards Petite Sirah**
peachycanyon.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $26 @ the Winery 10/23/07
Deep rich garnet color. Palate consists of meaty, leather flavors, big tannins accompanied by sweet blueberries. Aromas of fresh lavender and roses. Thought it would evolve into a softer, more elegant wine. Should give it another year or two to soften the tannins and unite the flavors. Enjoyable but rustic.

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**** Outstanding | *** Delicious | ** Enjoyable | * Drinkable
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