There are, mainly, three places in the world that make Petite Sirah: California, Australia and Israel. A great deal of wine made from this grape varietal—and not much is made—is dull. While big, full-bodied and bold, the wine often falls flat—jammy and lacking length, depth, or complexity, having a similar quality to cough syrup coating the mouth & throat and sitting there. One perks up and gets excited, then, when a Petite Sirah from Israel, of all places, makes you rethink what Petite Sirah is capable of. Subtlety? The 2012 RECANATI Reserve Petite Sirah, from vineyards in the Lower Galilee, is graciously subtle in washes of blueberry, rose, pomegranate and savory spices. Softness? This wine, as compared to American Petites, has room for cottony softness, creating a remarkable balance with the grape’s natural robust flavor profile. Grace? Smooth, facile and lengthy, nothing is forced and everything is balanced.
Petite Sirah is rarely made, and the Recanati is a rare find. The winemaker’s artistry is on full display here, making aesthetic choices that are right on the mark. Israel’s new wave of winemakers are on the cutting edge of redefining uncommon wines. Along with Petite, the Carignan, Gewurztraminer, Roussanne/Marsanne, Rosé and Marselan are finding some of their finest expressions in the ancient winemaking region. This utterly delectable wine is convincing evidence of this sea change. –J.M.