Biale Royal Punishers Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2018
A couple weeks ago we opened this unique varietal Napa Valley Petite Sirah from a traditional producer of Napa Valley Zinfandels, Robert Biale.
That bottle exceeded my expectations for a big fruit forward sipper. (It got 95 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and 92 points from Wine Spectator noting it as "Highly Recommended").
We enjoyed that bottle so much with its rich, concentrated full bodied flavorful fruit, a style we love, I sought to replace it. Naturally, the 2013 release was no longer available but I was able to acquire several bottles of the 2016 vintage, and a few of the 2018.
Binny's Beverage Depot, the Chicagoland wine superstore indicated on-line that it had a several bottles of the 2016, but not at a convenient location. I called a couple local independent merchants about obtaining a few bottles and ended up placing a special order. When they arrived they turned out to be the 2018 vintage. Several days later I was at a Binny's location that had the 2016 in stock and I obtained a few more.
As I wrote at the time, Robert Biale Vineyards in Napa Valley dates back to the 1930s when the Biale family grew Zinfandel grapes and other produce, selling the grapes to local wineries, saving some for their own wine production. During prohibition, to obfuscate their banned trade selling bottles of illicit homemade Zinfandel, they would refer to their dark fruit filled wines as "Black Chickens" over the party line phone service.
Biale Winery was formally founded in 1991 when Aldo Biale and his son Robert formed a partnership with winemaker Al Perry and wine salesman Dave Pramuk. Their initial product was Zinfandel, eventually adding Petite Sirah grown on their 25 acres in Napa Valley.
Despite its popularity, the Petite Sirah grape is somewhat rare with less than 10,000 acres planted worldwide, with the bulk of that in California. In France, the grape is referred to as Durif.
Not to be confused with Syrah, Petite
Sirah is a cross of the two grape varietals Syrah and Peloursin. Robert Biale’s Royal Punishers got its name from scrambling
the letters of both parent grapes. The resulting wine is darker and
fuller, deep, inky and powerful,
appropriately named, it deserves its reputation as one of Napa Valley’s
top Petite Sirahs.
According to Biale, Petite
Sirah was the most commonly planted grape in Napa Valley for nearly a century
and now there is a resurgence and new appreciation for this historic
varietal. Known for its dark color, firm structure, and deep blue and black
fruit flavors, it is perfectly suited to Napa Valley’s moderate and dry growing
season. Petite Sirah was also a favorite grape among winemakers looking to pump
up underpowered wines in need of deep fruit, color, and structure. Its natural
versatility made it a great counterpart to all red varieties including
Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
With the kids in from out of state for the weekend, we opened this Big Red for late night adventurous sipping.
Robert Biale sources this Royal Punishers Petite Sirah from Carpy-Connolly Ranch in Rutherford. There the well-drained gravel and sandy loam soils, and warm daytime temperatures are ideally suited for ripening Petite Sirah grapes.
Winemaker's notes for this release, "The 2018 Royal Punishers has a deep, blackish purple color with aromas of currants, blueberry, quince, violets, figs, molasses and graphite. The entry is weighty with a broad mid-palate structure which has layers of ripe, black fruit flavors. The oak profile is balanced and the tannins are medium grained which hold the fruit profile and carry a long, lingering finish."
While not as big and powerful as the 2013, this was bold and concentrated with rich extracted inky purple colored fruit, black raspberry, black currants, black tea and tobacco notes with a moderate tannin laced finish.
RM 91 points.