For over 30 years, we have been fans of Petite Sirah after drinking many bottles of Stag’s Leap Petite Sirah in the early to mid-1990s. During the drawn-out days of the COVID shutdowns of 2020, we had a lot of time to think about all the wines we have never produced but always loved and wanted to make. Petite Sirah was at the top of that list so we went searching Santa Barbara County for some fruit before settling on fruit from a 15+ year old vineyard in the Los Alamos area. To add to the challenge, not only had we never made a Petite Sirah, but it had also been decades since we made any wine from Los Alamos, an area known for its mild climate and sandy soils which limit the vigor causing the vines to stress. The heat spikes of the 2020 vintage added to the stress on the vines and fruit which was harvested in October during one of the many heat spikes of the vintage.
Unfortunately, the fruit was not very pretty when it arrived at the winery making for a lot of work for our hands and sorting machine. Once sorted and in the fermenter, it looked better, but we knew that controlling the extraction was going to be key to bringing any elegance and drinkability to this wine. After 12 days in the fermenter, the wine was a monster, dark black in color with massive tannins — pretty much everything we thought it would be.
At 8 months of aging, we racked the wine for the first time and decided that we needed to tone the wine down a bit to bring some balance, additional texture and elegance, to make it more Beckmen in style. I left it in the hands of my assistant Rory Baldwin, and he, along with Abel (long time cellar master) and a former cellar worker, began blending trials on the wine. After some time, they presented their favorites to me, and after tasting them, we decided to go with an addition of 20% Purisima Mountain Vineyard Syrah (how could we go wrong with that call?). The Syrah addition toned down the massive tannins and structure of the pure Petite Sirah, bringing the balance and texture that it needed. While the blend made it more Beckmen in style, the wine unquestionably keeps the focus on the varietal flavor of the Petite Sirah. The wine aged for a total of 22 months in neutral French oak barrel prior to bottling.
Honestly, I am glad we waited almost 30 years to produce our first Petite Sirah because we needed all that experience to create a wine as good as this from the materials we started with.
The 2020 Petite Sirah is now sold out.