WBW #40 – 39 Degrees of Petite Sirah

This week commences my first attempt at Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW). For those who are not familiar with the concept, Lenn Thompson from Lenndevours proposed the idea of a monthly virtual wine tasting event back in 2004.

Different bloggers send in ideas for themes or topics and then become the hosts from month to month. Participating bloggers buy wines that are consistent with the theme and blog their tasting notes on or before the Wednesday of the event. This week’s WBW host Sonadora, who runs the blog Wannabewino, asked us all to seek out any version of Petite Sirah we could find, even if by its other name: Durif.

I was excited about this particular theme since this varietal is one of my favorites; hence, I wanted to join in on the WBW fun.

My immediate reaction was to hunt down a Vincent Arroyo Petite Sirah. It’s been a few years since I tasted one of his magnificent masterpieces so I was on a mission to locate a bottle for this tasting. To my dismay, I failed to locate the wine and unfortunately did not have enough time to have a bottle shipped directly from the winery :( so on to plan B.

I selected the 2005 “39 degrees” Lake County Petite Sirah from a new wine venture headed up by veteran Roy Cecchetti, who co-founded Cecchetti Sebastiani Cellars with his brother-in-law, Don Sebastiani. Roy’s new venture, appropriately named the Cecchetti Wine Company, is committed to offer consumers quality wines at affordable prices.

I was excited about this purchase for two reasons: The association of this wine with Lake County and the indirect connection between 39 degrees and Sebastiani.

Lake County typically produces good quality distinctive reds yet many wines from this region are undervalued and unappreciated. It will be interesting to see if 39 degrees can compete with other great Lake County Petite Sirah’s produced by vintners like Shannon Ridge, Steele Wines and Langtry Estate (Guenoc).

As for the indirect connection with Sebastiani, one might suspect critical acclaim received from previous endeavors to yield similar results in new ventures. I’ve been a fan of Sebastiani wines for a number of years, particularly their line of cherryblock wines produced in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

So how did 39 Degrees fair? Well, I was impressed on its initial pour; it’s a wine with a very dark inky color with a new world nose of cherry and plum. The soft entry imparts flavors of burnt cherry, blackberry and plum. Overall, it’s pretty simplistic in style, medium-bodied; unattractive hollow mid-palate with a tannic, hot finish; in general, it’s a good effort, however it’s a bit green and lackluster; giving them the benefit of the doubt I would generously rate this wine an 85 on a 100-point scale.

Value: $15.00
ABV: 14.5%


About the Author:

Editor and co-founder of Enobytes.com, Pamela is a sommelier and former restaurant manager and wine buyer with Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), Court of Master Sommeliers & Center for Wine Origins certification. She has contributed to or been quoted by various publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Sommelier Journal, Vegetarian Times, VIV Magazine, UC-Berkeley Astrobiology News, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, NPR and USA Today. True to her roots, she seeks varietal and appellation integrity and is always passionate about finding the next great bottle of wine.


  1. Sonadora December 11, 2007 at 12:11 PM - Reply

    Ah, sorry this one didn’t work out so well for you. You are the 2nd entry and the 2nd disappointing bottle for the blogger! PS is one of my very favorites, I’m sorry to see no luck so far!

  2. Dale Cruse December 14, 2007 at 8:15 AM - Reply

    I drank the same Petite Sirah for Wine Blogging Wednesday and was disappointed by it also.

  3. Matthew Apsokardu December 14, 2007 at 3:51 PM - Reply

    I’m just starting to get into wbw, and I enjoyed your post. I’ve never had 39 degrees personally, but that seemed like a fair review.

    It must have been a touch disappointing after experiencing that impressive pour.


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  4. Evan Prodromou January 8, 2008 at 12:25 PM - Reply

    This post reminds why I like WBW so much; good in-depth review with a lot of background on the producer. Too bad the quality of the wine doesn’t measure up to the quality of your review! B-)

    I’ve added the wine to Vinismo; see here for details:


    It’s pretty sparse; please feel free to beef up the description with more info.

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