Monday, April 8, 2024

Biale Royal Punishers Napa Valley Petite Sirah with BBQ Ribs

 Biale ‘Royal Punishers’ Petit Syrah with Baby Back Ribs

Linda brought home from Costco a rack of baby back ribs, normally one of my favorite eats when paired with appropriate BBQ complementary wine. Tonight’s ribs were disappointing, being very grisly and fatty, barely acceptable for the first meal, and not so for any follow on leftovers. 

Never-the-less, I had pulled from the cellar a BBQ friendly wine for the occasion, in anticipation of and hoping for a better outcome.

Biale Royal Punishers 2016 Petit Syrah

This is 100% Petit Sirah from Biale Vineyards, a family owned producer that has been farming most notably Zinfandel in Napa since 1937.

Robert Biale Vineyards in Napa Valley date 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.

The current instantiation of 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 Syrah and Peloursin. The result is darker and fuller. 

In Napa Valley, the market has turned to Cabernet Sauvignon and other French varieties leaving Zinfandel as a rare varietal comprising less that 3% of the valley's grape production. And, Petit Sirah an even smaller fraction of that. 

The inaugural wine production of Biale Petit Sirah was a quantity of 400 cases produced from 8 acres of old non-irrigated low-yielding vines called "Aldo's Vineyard." Today, Bob Biale, Dave Pramuk, and winemaker Steve Hall specialize in a broad portfolio of twenty Zinfandel labels each representing the terroir driven personalities of their property with some of the oldest vineyards in America.

Biale Zinfandel is produced in a distinctive style utilizing intensive old world Burgundian methodology from vineyard to barrel to bottle and are recognized as one of the top Zinfandel producers in America. 

Being darker and fuller than even ZInfandel, a traditional fabulous varietal wine for BBQ, one can see why I consider a go-to wine for hearty robust zesty BBQ.

This bottle is the last of a selection I obtained several years ago of this label. The previous bottle consumed from that lot was in late 2020 when I wrote about the producer and wine in more detail in the blogpost excerpt that follows.

Originally posted 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. 

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. 

wrote back at that time 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.

Winemaker’s Notes for this release - “The 2016 Royal Punishers has a healthy deep, dark blue/black color profile. Aromas of plum, quince, violets, figs, molasses, graphite and marbled rye awaken the nose. The entry is viscous and weighty, then builds into a broad mid palate structure which has layers of ripe, black fruit flavors. The oak profile is balanced and the tannins are mouthwatering and medium grained which hol the fruit profile and carry a long, lingering finish.” 

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.

Earlier postings of various vintages of this label - 

Robert Biale 'Royal Punisher' Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2018 - November 15, 2020
Robert Biale 'Royal Punisher' Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2016 - November 19, 2020

Robert Biale 'Royal Punisher' Napa Valley Petite Sirah 2013 - October 22, 2020