Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Concannon Celebrating Its History with Petit Sirah
The Concannon family arrived in California in 1883 and has been operating continuously by the ensuing generations down to John Concannon today. John’s father Jim Concannon is a California wine pioneer. Jim is also widely credited for America’s first 100 percent Petit Sirah.
Besides the bold, rich Petit Sirah, Concannon is also known for helping lead a conservancy movement in the Livermore region, which is just east of San Francisco. Concannon and other area vintners have placed their vineyards in an independent trust that assures urban sprawl will never take over the historic area’s farm ground.
Concannon makes four wines, soon to add a fifth, from the Conservancy properties – Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Sirah, and Chardonnay. They retail at $15 and represent some of the best value varietals you’ll find at the price point.
But Concannon is best known for the small purple grape with all the big flavor. “This is actually a very sacred process how we make our Petit Sirah,” Concannon said. “We harvest the fruit at night, let it cool down, we bring it in and throw it on the sorting table. We sort out the berries, throw them through the rubber impalers and release the juice. We add some yeast and we’re making wine like the Egyptians did.”
The end result of all that hand crafting is a wine that’s anything but petite. “This wine is the St. Bernard that wants to sit in your lap,” John laughed. “It’s a very friendly wine but it’s big.”
And while many people shy away from big red wines it’s easy to recommend Concannon’s version because of the roundness. Concannon shared recent A.C. Nielson statistics showing Petit Sirah as the second-fastest growing varietal in California behind Pinot Noir.
He suggests pairing the wine with any food that has spice or pepper along with steak, barbeque, or Asian food. “If you have heat in the meal, bring it on. This wine can keep up with it.”
I love this wine with a nice charred steak.
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