I’ve long said that every wine has a story; some are just more interesting than others.
I’ve also learned, after harrumph-ahem-noneofyourbusiness years in the journalism business, that some sources are more reliable than others. This comes to light perhaps once or twice each year when we have the errors of our ways pointed out by someone who is a bit more knowledgeable on a specific topic.
As a result of our June 30 posting here on Blog.Vinesse.com, an unreliable source got in the way of an interesting story.
Matter of fact, it wasn’t just an interesting story; it was a fascinating one. We know this because of the headline on the story: “9 Fascinating Facts About Petite Sirah.” You can review the entire list—which has now been updated with new information—here.
While all nine items on the list were both interesting and fascinating, two were a bit out of date. This was pointed out in a blog written by Jo Diaz, who is among the world’s foremost authorities on Petite Sirah. Her Diaz Communications oversees an organization called P.S. (as in: Petite Sirah) I Love You.
Our Fascinating Fact #5 originally read: “It’s possible that Petite Sirah is distantly related to Syrah, but there’s no question they are two entirely different varieties.”
That was the widely-held belief before DNA “fingerprinting” cleared up some family secrets, as Diaz explains:
Petite Sirah is a cross between Syrah and Peloursin, as discovered by Dr. Carol Meredith, professor emeritus of U.C. Davis’ enology department. Syrah is the father, Peloursin is the mother; so, it’s not distant. Your father and mother produced you, and that’s very closely related. Just as your parents are very unique, so are you—just as Petite Sirah is to its parents.”
The fact that there are no degrees of uniqueness aside (sorry, but “very unique” is on our list of pet peeve phrases, along with “revert back” and “first annual”), we take Diaz’s point. Thanks to Dr. Meredith, Petite Sirah’s parentage no longer is a mystery.
Also in error was our Fascinating Fact #7, which originally read: “There are approximately 3,500 acres of the variety planted in Argentina — about the same acreage as in California.”
We’re not sure where those statistics came from, as we tossed out the source material once the story had been posted. So we have no idea how reliable the source was, although we’re pretty confident the information was accurate at one time. Just not now.
While we don’t have the current Petite Sirah acreage for Argentina at hand, Diaz has provided us with much more recent data for California. She has been tracking the information since 2002, and has developed a chart that illustrates the variety’s rollercoaster ride in popularity.
According to Diaz’s data, California Petite Sirah plantings peaked in 1976 at 14,215 acres. Acreage then declined steadily through 1995, when it had slipped to 1,738 acres.
Then the rebound began—to 1,950 acres in 1996…to 3,916 in Y2K…to 6,093 in 2005…and to 7,999 in 2010.
The only years in which there were “approximately 3,500 acres” planted in California were 1988 and 1999. If our source material came from either of those two years, it certainly could not be considered “reliable” in 2011.
And so, after spending the night in the wood shed, we have emerged with our head held low, embarrassed by our grape gaffe, more determined than ever to double-check the reliability (and timeliness) of our sources.
Tomorrow: We’ll share information on the website that is dedicated to all things Petite Sirah, including next week’s 9th annual Petite Sirah Symposium.