Thursday, November 19, 2020

Biale Royal Punishers Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2016

Robert Biale Royal Punishers Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2016

This thread of a mini vertical tasting continues. It started a couple weeks ago when we opened from our cellar the 2013 vintage of 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").

As I wrote earlier, 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 newer 2016 vintage at Binny's Beverage Depot, the Chicagoland wine superstore. For reference, Binny's sells this label for $42. The producer's 'published' release price is $49.

Following that tasting and a subsequent tasting of the 2018 release, we dined out at Angelis Italian, our favorite neighborhood trattoria and I took BYOB the 2016 release to share and compare with the recent tastings of the '13 and '18 vintages. 

The dinner was for a special occasion, for our dear long-time friends Mark and Jane who sold their home and are moving from Illinois to Texas. For their last night here we took them to dinner at Angelis. So many of our close friends have left Chicagoland for warmer weather and improved living environments in red states - Florida, South and North Carolina, Tennessee and now, Texas. It’s sad and tragic to see the decline of our home state as it succumbs to the burdens of decades of fiscal mismanagement, corruption, patronage and our politicians' selfishness and foolishness. No wonder the common saying is, 'the best view of Illinois is in the rear view mirror' as people exit the state in droves, the largest net loss of any state. 

It’s heartbreaking and depressing to watch our excessive tax dollars fund debt service rather than regular traditional government and social services. So many have become beholden to the entitlement economy, it’s become almost pervasive, despite the fact it is unsustainable. 

Ironically, today’s Chicago Tribune headliner was the Indictments of the chief aide to our long time Illinois Speaker of the House leader, a former COMED CEO, and a couple other luminaries for bribery and corruption. The legendary long time party chairmen fell through the cracks again and remains elusive, however, his grip on the reigns of power is slipping away. But after decades of abuse, the damage is done. 

Forgive me, so much for political hand wringing and commiserating, we wish our departing friends well in their new home state.

For our dinner, we took BYOB from our cellar this recent wine purchase that we picked up to try as we consider buying more. Several weeks ago we drank from our cellar the 2013 vintage release of this label. When I went to replace it, the 2018 release was available. I then found several bottles of this 2016. They had a few remaining so I brought this to taste, and to compare with the other two recent vintages tasted.

I wrote last week about Robert Biale Vineyards in Napa Valley and their work with Zinfandel and Petite Sirah sourced from their 25 acres of vineyards in Napa Valley where it is perfectly suited to the moderate and dry growing season. The resulting dark, full, deep, inky and powerful, Petite Sirah has become a favorite grape among winemakers looking to pump up underpowered wines in need of deep fruit, color, and structure. As a standalone varietal, this was almost too much for our moderate pastas, veal, salmon and ahi tuna dinner entrees, delightful none-the-less.

Robert Biale Royal Punishers Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2016

The Robert Biale Royal Punishers Petite Sirah is sourced 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.

This 2016 was more like the big bold 2013 vintage than the 2018 we tasted the other evening. 

This was awarded 92 points by Wine Spectator, 91 points by James Suckling and Wine Enthusiast, and 90 points by critic/pundit Jeb Dunnuck.

This 2016 Petite Sirah Royal Punishers spent 17 months in 30% new barrels.

This is dark inky purple colored, full bodied, big, bold, concentrated with moderate firm structure, the black berry and black raspberry fruits are overtaken by notes of camphor or what Wine Enthusiast noted as 'a touch of heat', on opening that ‘burn off’ after a period of breathing and settling. Accented by notes of graphite and spice, hints of pepper emerged on the firm but approachable tannin laced lingering finish. 

RM 92 points.