When I was in junior high I joined the gymnastics team. To this day I don’t know what the appeal was. I don’t follow the sport, I wasn’t raised by former gymnasts, and I don’t particularly like wearing tights in front of people. Perhaps even at that age I had an appreciation for the art of such controlled strength (although at 5’9” and 115 lbs. my build was a rather imperfect medium to display that art). The rings, in particular, held my interest. In fact I worked so hard on them that the team dubbed me “Ring Man.” Soon the time came for our first meet where all the parents were invited to watch, and when my turn came to do my routine, the entire team hoped “Ring Man” would score well and put us ahead.
I was lifted to the rings by the coach and all eyes in the gym were glued on me. The problem became apparent immediately. Rather than concentrating on the routine, Ring Man let himself become distracted by his buddy off to the side who was trying to make him laugh. Using all my efforts to hold it together, I had nothing left for anything more than just hanging on to those rings and the seconds awkwardly passed. Eventually an ugly, silence filled the gym. Everyone waited. There was no routine, no maneuvers, no movement at all; just a skinny kid hanging from the rings shaking with laughter. After an eternity, I let go, dropped to the mat, and with a red face saluted the judges. To my surprise a loud, robust applause erupted as the team and the parents showed their appreciation for the effort. They all saw what was happening off to the side, and while it wasn’t a good gymnastics routine, it was a memorable performance.
So what’s the parallel between that story and Petite Sirah? Here it is, and it’s a weak one: Petite Sirah has no more to do with being petite or Sirah than Ring Man had to do with being an ace on the rings. Both were misnamed. Rather than showing petite, light, delicate flavors, Petite Sirah displays bigger, bolder, darker characteristics. Unlike Syrah, Petite Sirah displays a fuller body, heavier structure, and is often more tannic. While the two are often blended together, they are distinctly different grapes.
Although different than Syrah, this week’s recommendation still gives a memorable performance. For the price, it’s a gold medal contender.
Concannon 2007, Petite Sirah ($14.99): Dark chocolate and pepper hang suspended on the finish like a laughing gymnast.