2020 Theopolis Vineyards, Petite Sirah, Estate Grown, Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino County.
Always an exciting wine and one I look forward to trying, the Theopolis Petite Sirah by Theodora Lee, who owns this amazing terraced vineyard in the Yorkville Highlands, which makes for one of California’s most unique and tasty versions of this grape, with this 2020 being another dark and powerful effort. As mentioned in prior reviews, this might be the best and most distinct site for Petite Sirah in California, and I have loved this wine since I first tried it, along with Halcon’s version from this hillside and schist soiled vineyard that gives an ultra deep purple/black color and a full bodied palate with classic dense blackberry, plum, bramble berry and chocolate dipped cherry fruits along with a racy spicy and savory character, as well as some grippy dusty tannins, dried herbs, sweet liqueur, mocha and toasty/smoky oak notes. It is tough to follow up vintages like 2018 and 2019, but this 2020 gives a good showing and will entertain Lee’s fans, though be sure to decant this youthful Petite Sirah and match it up with Theodora’s suggested cuisine choices, including smoked brisket, BBQ, grilled flank steak and or hearty Winter stews that will pull out a more lush fruit profile. There’s a lot to like in these Theopolis wine, especially this one, but their set of elegant and lush SLH and Yorkville Highlands Pinots, a rare and tasty dry Petite Sirah Rosé and the Cuvée Cerise red blend are all worth chasing down.

As noted here at Grapelive, Theodora Lee, originally from Texas and a well respected trial lawyer, fell in love with California wine after moving to the San Francisco area in 1987 and after seeing many of her colleagues invest in vineyards and wineries she founded Theopolis Vineyards back in 2003. Her passion for wine led her to the remote and steep hillsides of the Yorkville Highlands with Lee focusing on Petite Sirah grape believing it had the best potential here and would make for an iconic example, and very few not agree that this spot and wine are very special. Lee, who has taken UC Davis enology classes and is very hands on with her wines, along with winemaker and consultant Ed Kurtzman, known for his work with Roar, August West and his own Sandler Wines, which include this signature bottling, as well as doing a unique Rosé of Petite Sirah and a few tasty Pinot Noir offerings, plus she does fruity white wine made from a hybrid varietal, called Symphony, that was a crossing of Muscat and Grenache Gris. For her signature Petite Sirah, Theodora went with an open top stainless steel fermenter to do the primary fermentation and used 25% whole clusters, that gives this wine its extra pop, and then pressed to French oak barrel, with 25% new, where the wine is matured for 21 months before bottling. This vintage is warmly ripe, coming in at 14.9%, but still feels energetic and freshly balanced, drink this one over the next 3 to 5 years. For those that like aging their wines, the 2018 and 2019 vintages, which you can still find, look to have incredible aging potential.
($42 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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