This rugged California “little little” has big flavor
The names given to grape varieties can have all sorts of derivations, including place names or surnames. But many are simply nicknames bestowed by a past generation of farmers that focus on what distinguishes one vine from another in the vineyard. purple skin Pinot Noiris an archaic term for a black pine conefor example, since that’s what it looks like on the vine. Merlot loosely translates to little blackbirdalthough it is unclear whether the name refers to the appearance of the clusters on the vine or the bird’s penchant for stealing ripe grapes.
Today’s wine bears the name small small for the two grape varieties of its blend, dominated by Petite Sirah and enhanced with a lower proportion of Petit Verdot. These similar grape varieties are unrelated and come from different regions of France. Little sirah, or little gentleman is a direct descendant of the famous Syrah grape from the Rhone Valley, while Petit Verdot is a grape originating from Bordeaux that appears in some Cabernet Sauvignon blends from the region. Both varietals are used in similar roles in winemaking and rarely appear as pure varietal wines. They are more often used in small proportions to deepen the color and intensify the flavor of a blended wine. The reason why is hinted at in their similar names, where the French word little refers to their small berry size. In red grapes, the small berries impart great flavor and dark color by increasing the proportion of dark grape skins to pale grape flesh. That’s why this robust Californian wine looks like ink in the glass and delivers such massive flavor impact that the winemaker chose to illustrate the label with cartoon elephants. There’s nothing small about the taste of this hyper-concentrated red, as dark, rich and intense as a bite of blueberry pie still warm from the oven.
$15.99; 14.5% alcohol
PLCB Item #13360
Sale price until October 2, regularly $18.99.
Also available at Kreston Wine & Spirits in Wilmington, $14.86, krestonwines.com; Total Wine & More in Claymont, Delaware, and Wilmington, $14.97, totalwine.com; and Canal’s at Mount Ephraim, $14.99, mycanals.com.