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An Australian Take on a Classic American Wine

An Aussie crowds in on the Petite Sirah game.

Quarisa Caravan Petite Sirah $17

Petite Sirah is as American as they come (even more than Zinfandel), so an Aussie “having at go at ‘er” is akin to making them making V-8 sports cars —messing with the Red, White and Blue itself. The grape produces wines that are usually described as spicy and plummy and the tannins are, well, tough, so in some ways the grape is well suited to the country’s that  gave us Tom Selleck and Paul Hogan. It’s a yeoman grape—aside from a few examples from Turley and Ridge it’s rare to see a bottle over $30, even up here, and frankly that’s just fine as it usually lacks the subtlety to justify a high price. That sounds like a put down, but it isn’t. I’d rather have a $16 bottle of Petite Sirah that expresses broad flavours of dark berry fruit than some generic $30 Cabernet from the appellation “California” that doesn’t know what the hell its trying to do. In the wise words of Bushwood Country Club’s Judge Smails “The world needs ditch diggers too”.

This wine isn’t a ditch digger by any stretch—the Aussies have softened much of the Durif’s (that’s what they call the grape down under) hard tannins but they haven’t overwhelmed it with oak. As a result it has a level of freshness that’s rare in Petite Sirah and it keeps the wine from being overwhelming, and it avoids the sweetness that infects some of the Aussie Shiraz. The irony is, at $16, it’s the best deal of any Petite Sirah in the market, even when it comes from halfway around the world.

 

Sirah

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