I caught a glimpse of the sun this morning and still I need to don my puffy down vest. It’s chilly inside TWH. No worries, I’ll be fine, this won’t put a damper on my mood ’cause school’s out and the promise of summer is in the air! I declare it’s time for outside grillin’ and time to imbibe in big bold reds. To that end, I’d like to suggest the 2007 Petite Sirah from Retro Cellars. It is big, bold, red and remarkably plush for what is typically a rough and tannic grape variety. Petite Sirah has its loyal fans and when seeking out a gutsy red from California, it is hard to outdo a Petite Sirah. Petite Sirah is commonly found in vineyards with a mixture of different varieties, think old vine field blends, and is mentioned as far back as the 1880’s in California wine literature. Perhaps it’s this long connection to the history of grape growing in California that attracted Mike and Kara Dunn, Retro Cellars’ proprietors, to it. After all why else would you make Petite Sirah when you could be making Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley? Well, I suppose for one reason Mike already does for his family’s winery with his father, Randy Dunn (ever heard of him?!!) at Dunn Vineyards. Kara also has a bit of Napa Valley wine history in her background too; her family owns Robert Pecota Winery. Sounds like the making of an epic novel set in the Napa Valley or better yetthe makings of a great collaboration for making some tasty wine!


Not to be confused with their Old Vine Howell Mountain bottling from the historic Park Muscatine vineyard, this first release, 195 case production, Retro Cellars’ 2007 Napa Valley Petite Sirah comes from a vineyard located in Napa’s Pope Valley. Lower elevations, more alluvial soil and a strong influence of fog all help to make a slightly more “friendly” version of Petite Sirah. By no means am I suggesting anything wimpy here; I am, after all, talking Petite Sirah. I enjoyed a bottle over three days and the fruit never waned. Also, what I often run into with big gun wines like this didn’t happen and that is this: the oak never became dominant even as the initial rush of fruit subsided. Even on day three, the oak supported the fruit, not overwhelming it. I like that about this wine.Despite being full-bodied and a real tooth stainer, it didn’t feel heavy and saturated on the palate after a few sips. It’s got lots of luscious blueberry and plum fruit and a finish of chocolatey-liciousness. Not surprising that this Petite Sirah should make it onto to French Laundry’s list. A dear friend (hi Nurit!) who speaks of food with even more flourish and waving arms than I, suggests pairing the 2007 Retro Petite Sirah with Moroccan-spiced chicken or a pork chop seasoned with coriander and cumin. The deep fruit of the 2007 Napa Valley Petite Sirah from Retro Cellars will be able to absorb and stand up to heavily seasoned food. That’s why I suggest it for summer grillin’ time.


It’s been a banner week in the Balistreri household, culminating with a magical moment when my daughter became a reader with only two days left of school. It happened just like that! One moment we were checking out books at the library and the next, rather than asking me to read to her the easy read chapter books she likes, she was silently reading to herself! First in the library, then in the car, and not being able to put the book down, continued reading inside the grocery store. The next morning I woke up to find her snuggling next to me with her nose in a book! Awesome. Here’s to a summer full of magical moments! —Anya Balistreri