William Knuttel Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah
Nestled above Doug Rafanelli’s blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon in the west hills above Dry Creek Valley, two small Petite Sirah vineyards named for Doug’s children lie on separate hilltops of barely an acre each. These head-trained vines cling to steep hillsides, and struggle to support only about 15-20 tiny clusters per vine—but the struggle is well worth it! The vines are warm at first light and bathe in sunshine right up until sunset, as the high hilltops avoid the shadows from Dry Creek Valley’s western hills. The thin soil warms early as it barely holds enough moisture to facilitate vine nourishment; this is dry farming to an extreme.
The Rex and Amarica blocks of Petite Sirah were both hand-harvested on September 6 after a warm, dry summer—but yields were miniscule at barely a ton per acre! The grapes were sorted and then crushed directly to small fermenters. After four days of cold soak, the musts were inoculated with a Rhone strain. The cap was punched down three times daily through fermentation, and then pressed off immediately. The free run portion was racked to French oak for 23 months of aging, at which time 6 barrels (three new and three 2-year-old) were selected for this single vineyard bottling. The wine was bottled unfined in September 2018.
The 2016 Rex & Amarica Petite Sirah has bright aromas of blackberry, ripe pomegranate, and black cherry, with well-integrated oak and toast. The wine is opaque, nearly like India ink, with black and deep purple hues. The velvety tannins are meshed in intense blackberry, blueberry and licorice flavors, and the well-balanced finish lingers while concentrated fruit explodes on the pallet.