Review: 2006 Robert Biale Petite Sirah Napa Valley The Royal Punishers

Powerfully Restrained

Bottom Line: Perhaps the most balanced, polished, and restrained Petite tasted to date, this is one refined product that defies (or improves upon) much of what the varietal has become known for.

The Rest Of The Story:  (Disclosure: This wine was received as a press sample.) 

With a name like 'The Royal Punishers', how can you not be curious?

Robert Biale Vineyards traces its winegrowing roots in Napa all the way back to the 1930's, long, long before the Wine Train, $20 tasting room fees, and route 29 congestion.  Specializing primarily in Zinfandel, they also make small quantities of other varietals, including this Petite Sirah.

While we don't have the basis of comparison to tell if this wine is an obvious sibling to the other wines made by Biale, we'd hope to as this was a pleasure to review. 

Many wine drinkers shy away from Petite Sirah for a number of reasons, chief among them that they just don't know what it is.  But then there are others whose preferences lean toward the less tannic, less dense, less...well, if you know what text book Petite Sirah is, then you know it's not for every palate.  This one, however, could be the one that changes people's minds.

Viscous, and intimidating-looking, its blackness does not betray its lineage.  Not a wine you want to spill.  Aromatic as it's decanted, but pungent, powerful, and funky in the glass.  That might sound off-putting, but it isn't.  It's intriguing.  But enjoy it early as the funk blows off with some air time. 

Racy legs, smooth as silk texture (seriously), and tannins so perfectly integrated you'll second guess it's Petite Sirah.  Possibly the most refined - and restrained - Petite we've ever had.  If you love the varietal character of Petite Sirah, but the brawn and intense tannins are too much for you, this could be the Petite for you.  Pricey, though understandable for its elegance. $40