If a vineyard could “hide,” I believe it would do so in the tallest mountain tops in an over-looked AVA. Halcón Vineyards is located in the Mendocino appellation of Yorkville Highlands, overlooking the Anderson Valley at its 2,500-foot peak. It is, in fact, one of the highest vineyards in California. And while Mendocino, and certainly Anderson Valley, have a strong reputation for Pinot Noir production, due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the constantly cool temperatures, this high-altitude vineyard’s terroir is most reminiscent of France’s Northern Rhône region. And so it is that among the classic Rhône grapes Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Grenache, that Halcón Vineyards grows exquisite Petite Sirah, producing one of the most refined wines of this varietal I’ve had.
About the Wine: Halcón Vineyards Tierra 2015 Petite Sirah is made from 100% Petite Sirah grapes harvested from Theopolis Vineyard in Yorkville Highlands, located in California’s Anderson Valley AVA. As owner Paul Gordon says, “We went ‘full Rhone’ with this vintage,” fermenting with 50% whole cluster inclusion and aging the wine in neutral French oak puncheons. This wine is unflitered and unfined.
Flavor Profile: Open the bottle of the Halcón Vineyards Tierra and breathe in dark green herbs (tarragon), plum sauce, and a meaty umami. On the pour this Petite Sirah is quite dark, inky, and the color of purple meets maroon meets brown. And yet, despite that darkness, there is a gem-like sheen to it as it flows from bottle to glass. In the glass, the wine presents royally thick, impenetrable at the center, and the very color of a chocolate cherry sauce.
Take your first whiff of the Halcón Vineyards Tierra and learn that the eyes do not deceive. Indeed, initial aromas are of choclate and cherries, as well as that tarragon herb and, now, a bit of basil as well. Swirl and find more woody herbs like rosemary; pull away from the glass and find a light and lively cranberry juice scent.
On the palate this Petite Sirah is full and muddy with tannins. I say “muddy” because they are, like mud, quite soft though textural. The acid is very slight, just a mere shadow, but working as the structure and bird-like backbone to the wine’s flavor profile. Dominant flavors are of bittersweet chocolate, black cherry, orange blossom, star anise, and the outer, crusty edges of a flame-grilled steak. The finish is solid with a warm coat of tannins and the fade-out of acidity. The after-breath is reminiscent of a cherry cordial liqueur.
Food Pairing: I paired the Halcón Vineyards Tierra 2015 Petite Sirah with a homemade turkey burger made with a cauliflower bun, and potato wedges. What I loved about this pairing was that the Petite Sirah brought the heartier, “meatier” element if you will, to a dish that, in itself was quite light. I would recommend pairing this wine with something similar — whether it’s chicken breast, a white fish, or even a vegetarian soup and sandwich situation. Choose a lighter “star” to your meal, a medium-bodied side (like the potato wedges, a gravy-like dressing, or a cream-based soup), and let this Petite Sirah carry the weight in this food-wine relationship.
More Info: I received the Halcón Vineyards Tierra 2015 Petite Sirah as a sample for review. (Cheers Paul!) Retail: $30. For more information about Halcón Vineyards, their available wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Halcón Vineyards website.
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I loved this wine as well but just wanted to clarify a couple things. There is no Petite Sirah at the Halcon estate vineyard. Theopolis Vineyard is about five miles east of Halcon, and Halcon neither owns nor farms it. Also, Theopolis Vineyard is not located anywhere close to the Anderson Valley AVA- it’s actually in the eastern portion of Yorkville Highlands close to where Highway 128 spills out to 101 at Cloverdale. The Yorkville Highlands is its own AVA and is not contiguous with Anderson Valley.