2019 Halcon Vineyard, Petite Sirah “Tierra” Theopolis Vineyard, Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino County.
For many years now, I’ve suggested that this Halcon Tierra Petite Sirah maybe the greatest modern version and most singular example of this grape in California, taking it to new almost unimaginable heights, in my opinion, and uniquely it is very much a wine inspired by old world Northern Rhone, it’s styled in the mold of some the cult heros of that region, like Domaine Jamet of Cote-Rotie and Thierry Allemand of Cornas, with plenty of whole bunches used in the fermentation to create a special, if not icon example of this grape. So it was with great sadness, that I learned, that winemakers Paul & Jackie Gordon have decided to call it quits, and this maybe the last of their Petite Sirah, as well as their awesome Syrah wines, and they have sold their Halcon Estate vineyard to pursue new adventures. This 2019 is a great swan song for this Tierra Theopolis Vineyard Petite Sirah, it is everything it should be and more in the glass, with a deep saturated purple/garnet hue and it shows a heightened spicy, dark berry and floral bouquet on the nose, it is incredibly inviting to the senses with dense layers of blackberry, blueberry, plum and cherry fruits along with creme de cassis, anise, sandalwood and faint mocha notes in a gorgeous full bodied wine. There is a fresh burst of natural acidity the pushes a slightly lighter mouth feel, but with food it gains opulent and lush personality that brings even greater pleasure, while in the background you can tell there is a serious structure, tannic grip and the stems provide a sultry earthiness, umami and a touch of herbal crunch, making a nice contrast to the richness of fruit. This vintage is more composed and polished than the prior releases in its youth, though no less thrilling or impressive in overall performance!
The Halcon “Tierra” Petite Sirah is made once again faithful to the Gordon’s style, which as noted is modeled after the wines of the Northern Rhone, where they use typically 50% whole cluster in the maceration and primary fermentation, started naturally with indigenous yeasts and a low SO2 regiment with the wine getting hand pilage. As noted in my reviews, things continued pretty much the same, after the Petite Sirah was close to dry and finished an extended maceration, where it captured its sexy dark color and savory depth, it was pressed to well used or neutral French oak barrels to finish malos and the it was aged close to 20 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Petite Sirah has become, like Zinfandel a Californian grape and it has come along way from its humble beginnings in the Southwest of France, where it was an accidental crossing of Peloursin and Syrah at François Durif’s grapevine nursery. Later on it mistakenly made its way to California, where it lost its original name “Durif” and in, according to Patrick Comiskey’s great research, revealed in his awesome American Rhone book, stole the Petite Sirah name and went on to a huge, though unlikely success, due to the inky color and ability to be blended into red blends, and make for long aged single variety wines. This wine has always been a ridiculous value, as is the Halcon Syrah, and I recommend grabbing as many bottles as you can find before they are gone for good! The steeply terraced Theopolis Vineyard, set on stony schist and owned by Theodora Lee, of Theopolis Vineyards, who also does a fabulous version of Petite Sirah, in the Yorkville Highlands is fast becoming a Grand Cru site in this region. The warm days and very cold nights in this part of Mendocino County here really make for sublime wines, as this wine confirms, putting it in Petite Sirah royalty along the likes of Turley, Biale, Carlisle, Jaffurs (Thompson Vineyard), Sheldon and Relic to name a few, as well as classics such as Freemark Abbey and Stag’s Leap Winery.
($32 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive