Home > GoodDevelop, Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > There is Peloursin in my Ridge Petite Sirah

There is Peloursin in my Ridge Petite Sirah

The Ridge, Petite Sirah is a wine I cannot recall seeing before on the shelves at MacArthur Beverages.  I also cannot recall having tasted a wine which included the varietal Peloursin.  Peloursin crossed with Syrah to produce Durif or Petite Sirah.[1]  Durif was first discovered then propagated in the vineyard of Dr. Francois Durif.  The earliest mention of “plant du rif” may be found in 1868.[2]  It was noticed by the Ampelographic Society of Viticulture Lyon in 1869 when they visited Michel Perret’s vineyards in Tullins.  During the visit Dr. Durif’s vines came to their attention.[3]   In describing the dominant varietals in the area they noted such vines as “la marsanne noire ou petite sirah” and “plant durif noir.”  As for the plant durif noir they noted it was introduced by Dr. Durif but he failed to tell them how it came about.  By 1878, plant durif noir was noted in Hermann Goethe’s Ampelographisches worterbuch.[4]  Durif was introduced to California by Charles McIver in 1884 founder of Linda Vista Winery near Mission San Jose.  He subsequently renamed it Petite Sirah.  These old Petite Sirah vineyards did not include pure plantings of just Durif but also included other varietals such as Peloursin and Syrah.

Linda Vista Winery, Mission San Jose, Sanborn Fire Map, 1897. Image from DSCQHR Excavation 2011.

Linda Vista Winery, Mission San Jose, Sanborn Fire Map, 1897. Image from DSCQHR Excavation 2011.

Four years later in 1888, the 1886 vintage of “Petite Syrah” from the St. Helena fruit of the Experimental Cellar of the State Viticultural Commission was presented.[5]  Two other entries include the 1887 vintages from Charles McIver of Mission San Jose as well as the 1887 vintage from H. W. Crabb of Oakville.  In January of 1889 two bottles of the 1886 vintage from the Experimental Cellar were sent by Clarence J. Wetmore to the Paris Exposition via the Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC. [6]

In the 1890s The California Agricultural Experiment Station was researching the grafting of different varietals on different rootstocks.  In 1905, the Experimental Stations provides a quote from Paul Masson, San Jose in the section “Experience of Growers. Wine Grapes.” [7]

I have quite a few acres of 11-year-old vines grafted on Rupestris St George, including the following varieties: Carignane, Mondeuse, Alicante Bouschet, Aramon, Grand Noir, Durif, Grenache, Pinot Semillon, Sauvignon vert, Folle blanche, Colombar, Pinot blanc. These are all doing very well, and, if anything, more vigorous and prolific than ungrafted vines of the same age. Carignane and Grenache. 12 years old on St George. have never failed to give a large crop and Aramon also seems very prolific.

Paul Masson appears to be the only one in the Bulletin who identifies the varietal as Durif. While he would have grafted the Durif vines around 1894, it is unclear if he always identified it as Durif instead of Petite Sirah.  Throughout the Bulletin are references to “Petite Sirah” which is not surprising given that it was planted in such areas as Amador County, Fresno, East Side Mission San Jose, West Side Cupertino, and Paso Robles.  Note the slight name changed from “Petite Syrah” to “Petite Sirah.”  A decade later in Bulletin 246 in the section “Vine Pruning in California” there is a paragraph about “Varieties which usually require long pruning.”  In this paragraph both Durif and Petite Sirah are listed.[8]

As for the wines, I highly recommend both but just be sure to cellar them for at least a few years.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2010 Ridge, Petite Sirah, Lytton Estate, Dry Creek Valley – $26
This wine is a blend of 88% Petite Sirah, 8% Zinfandel,  2% Syrah, and 2% Peloursin.  The fruit was destemmed, whole berry fermented with indigenous yeasts the underwent malolactic fermentation followed by aging in American oak.  Alcohol 14.3%.  The medium dark color was purple and grapey.  The nose was  a little pungent.  In the mouth there were fine, focused flavors, fine extract with strength but was still a refined wine.  There was a youthful, grapey note.  With air there were perfumed violets, a racy hint in the month, and pungent flavors.  There were very fine, ripe grapey tannins which I found pleasant.  ***(*) 2015-2030.


2009 Ridge, Lytton Springs, Dry Creek Valley – $30
This wine is a blend of 71% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah, and 6% Carignan.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were focused flavors of blueberry and blackberry which had a powdery aspect with impeccable acidity.  There were darker, lifted flavors in the finish which continued into the aftertaste.  While the aftertaste was deep it was not heavy and left the notion of fine, grapey extract in the mouth.  The wine became savory with, perhaps, a little glycerine.  Should develop well.  ***(*) 2015-2028.


[1] UC Davis Viticultural Information. URL:http://iv.ucdavis.edu/Viticultural_Information/?uid=13&ds=351. Last Accessed: 20 June 2013.
[2] Cherpin, De. Revue des jardins et des champs. 1868.
[3] Société des agriculteurs de France. Comptes rendus des travaux de la Société des agriculteurs de France, Volume 4. 1873.
[4] Goethe, Hermann. Ampelographisches wörterbuch. 1878.
[5] Report of the Sixth Annual State Viticultural Convention.  1888.
[6] State Office. Annual Report for the Board of State Viticultural Commissioners for 1889-1890. 1890.
[7] Grape Culture in California. University of California Publications Bulletin 197. 1908.
[8] Bioletti, Frederick T. Vine Pruning in California Part II. University of California Publications Bulletin 246. 1914.

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  1. March 21, 2016 at 12:07 pm

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