Ratings 2017-08-23T12:17:19+00:00

“Quite possibly the most perfect example of what Petite Sirah can offer in the world.”

– Soif

“This is what serious old-school California winemaking is all about”

– Groezinger Wine Company

2012 Old Vine Elevation Petite Sirah Howell Mountain 2017-10-05T12:59:51+00:00

94 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Inky blue and purplish fruit, lavender, sage, cloves and mocha run through the 2012 Petite Sirah Howell Mountain. Super-ripe, voluptuous and sensual, the 2012 will drink well with minimal cellaring, The voluptuous, ample style is a bit out of character for this wine. Then again, that’s 2012.

94 Points – Steve Heimoff

They call it “Elevation” because it’s the mountain wine, as opposed to the regular Petite, which is from Pope Valley. The official alcohol is 13.4%, but it doesn’t taste delicate, the way a 13.4% Pinot Noir would. It’s a big wine, drenched in 100% new French oak for thirty months. That’s a lot of wood, but the wine handles it deftly, because the fruit—blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants—is so incredibly concentrated. The tannins are bigtime, too. There are all sort of complexing tastes: anisette, dark chocolate shavings, charred beef, prosciutto, and exotic spices: cinnamon, clove, pepper, cardamom. How is it different from Retro’s Napa Valley Petite Sirah? It’s not really. A tad more intense, more focused, better structured. Well, those are the sorts of things you pay extra for. In this case, an additional ten bucks is worth it. Interestingly, 60% of the blend comes from the Park Muscatine Vineyard, which dates to the 1890s, which must also account for the wine’s unusual depth. It’s terrific to drink now with something rich, like short ribs, and it will age for at least twenty years, softening over time as it sheds sediment.

93+ Points – Millennial Drinkers

Always love these Petite Sirahs from Mike Dunn, and this 2012 is the bigger brother to their Napa Valley bottling. Deep and dark purplish red. Layered and thick nose with dried crushed flowers, cloves, blueberries and vanilla. Heavy and dusty tannins (8/10) with a full body. High acidity but not over the top. A lot redder than the Napa Valley bottling when it comes to fruit flavors of raspberries, and bramble berries but does have a touch of blueberries. A bit woody too throughout with some forest floor, spices and white pepper. Very dry and long finish. This is a best of a wine that will improve with some bottle age. Drink from 2019 till 2034. (93+ Points) – Millennial Drinkers

2012 Petite Sirah Napa Valley 2017-10-05T13:00:55+00:00

92 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous

The 2012 Petite Sirah (Napa Valley) is beautifully ripe, sensual and racy, all qualities that give it considerable and unusual early appeal for Petite. A host of dark cherry, plum, mint, smoke and licorice notes infuse this rich, flamboyant wine. The firm Petite tannins are nicely tamed.

93 Points – Steve Heimoff

It’s nice to think that I would have known this was Petite Sirah even without actually knowing it (which I did), because of the color. There’s no other California wine this black, and I do mean black, with an utterly impenetrable core. Even at the rim, there’s barely any color, maybe 1/32nd of an inch of garnet. The wine smells as dense as it looks, offering up heaps of blackcurrants, with hints of espresso, violets, unsweetened dark chocolate, grilled meat bone and graphite, with a jacket of sweet, toasted oak. In the mouth, no surprises! Big, luscious, thick in tannins, huge in blackcurrants, with a spicy finish. Serious wine, mind you, port-like for a cold winter night, if a little soft. Yes, the tannins are formidable. But they’re sweet, ripe tannins, not the numbingly hard kind, so I wouldn’t mind drinking this wine tonight. Still, it will age for many years, not necessarily getting “better” (whatever that means), but shedding sediment and seemingly gaining sweetness.

93 Points – Millennial Drinkers

Always love these Petite Sirahs from Mike Dunn, and this 2012 seems to be especially special. Dark purplish red. Overall lots of dark characteristics on the nose with tight bramble berries, black currants, spices, dried violets, a little cinnamon and even coriander. Even got a little gamey and savory with an hour or two in the glass. Heavy tannins (7/10) but smooth and full bodied. Kept beefing up as it sat open, currants on the attack, iron, smokey and a bit meaty. Larger in the mid-palate with some dark crushed rocks. Dark fruits coming through at the end after day one Insanely dry and long with a nice little spice kick in the finish. Will drink well for the next decade or so. Drink till 2027. (93 Points) – Millennial Drinkers

2011 Petite Sirah Howell Mountain 2017-09-06T10:00:51+00:00

93 Points – Vinous Media / Antonio Galloni

The 2011 Petite Sirah Howell Mountain offers notable intensity, with plenty of blue/blackish fruit, lavender, mint, violet and sage overtones. Refined and super-expressive, the 2011 is an absolute joy to taste today. All the elements are very nicely balanced in a surprisingly tamed Petite that will drink well with minimal cellaring.

92 Points – Steve Heimhoff

Then we come to the Howell Mountain. It is completely different, as opposite in flavor as you can imagine. The wine is softer, sweeter and riper than the Napa Valley, although the word “sweeter” is misleading, for it’s completely dry. But it does dazzle with the ripest, most succulent raspberries and red licorice, and seems oakier too, with that sweet, wonderfully toasted wood quality. It is perhaps notable that the wine was aged in 100% new French oak for 30 months. That amount of wood would swamp most red wines. Not this one. Once again, the official alcohol level, 12.8%, seems weirdly low, given the ripeness. Considering the wine’s forwardness and accessibility, I would pair it with a good steak, and drink it soon.
2011 Petite Sirah Napa Valley 2017-09-06T10:01:03+00:00

92 Points – Vinous Media / Antonio Galloni

Retro’s 2011 Petite Sirah Napa Valley is fabulous, especially within the context of the vintage. Plums, black cherries, lavender, savory herbs and juniper berries all take shape in the glass. The 2011 is plump, juicy and forward, with terrific overall balance. This is a terrific effort from Retro.

91 Points – Steve Heimoff

I have long admired these two bottlings from Retro, which has done a good job with Petite Sirah from both appellations. Of the two, the Napa Valley is firmer, drier and more structured. It’s quite dry, with substantial tannins and a leathery earthiness to the blackberries, raspberries, cocoa powder and soy sauce. The finish is long and spicy, like red licorice. It is a wine that can take some time in the cellar, but it’s drinkable now, although I would decant it. The vineyard where the grapes were grown is in the Pope Valley region. The official alcohol is 13.4%, which is lower than you’d think tasting it. Given the tannins, I would drink this wine with the richest, most complex foods possible: short ribs of beef, Chinese Mongolian beef, or beef or chicken in a Mexican mole sauce. Definitely for fans of big, full-bodied, complex red wines.
2010 Petite Sirah Howell Mountain 2017-09-06T10:01:52+00:00

90 Points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

The 2010 Petite Sirah comes from an old site where Ridge Vineyards produced some limited production bottlings under their Advanced Tasting Program when this site was named the Park Muscatine Vineyard. This 2010 Petite Sirah exhibits blueberry and blackberry fruit, spring flower notes, a hint of wet rocks, and a boatload of mouth-searing tannins.

5/5 Bones – Shiba Sommelier

Aroooooo!! This wine from my friends at Retro Cellars is the best Petite Sirah I’ve ever had. It’s got the balance and structure for cellaring. Blackberry and cassis, pine cones and evergreen forest, clean earth, balsamic glaze, and clove on the nose. Fruit is dark but lifted on the palate. Tannins give great structure. Nice acidity on the finish. Definitely New World in style but not overly extracted. Awesome stuff!

90 Points – James Suckling

A red with peppery, spicy, juicy character. Full body, soft tannins and a salty finish.

91 Points – Vinous Media / Antonio Galloni

The 2010 Petite Syrah is a dark, brooding beauty. Black cherries, plums, licorice, new leather and menthol. Time in bottle has softened some of the contours, something that Petite can always benefit from. The 2010 was made from Randy Dunn’s Park Muscatine Vineyard, the source of Dunn’s own 1990s Petite. Mike and Kara Dunn brought in their fruit in November and gave the wine 30 months in barrel. Dollops of Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon round out this distinctive Howell Mountain Petite Sirah. The 2010 is quite a bit more expressive than it was last year.
2009 Petite Sirah Howell Mountain Napa Valley 2017-09-06T10:00:30+00:00

93 Points (Editor’s Selection) – Wine Enthusiast

Retro makes one of the best, most consistent Petite Sirahs in California. Even though they used to source their fruit from Howell Mountain and this bottling now is from Pope Valley and Calistoga, it still shows the same qualities of complex interest based on impeccable winemaking. It’s an amazing wine, dry, full-bodied and tannic, with a complex range of berries…

2009 Petite Sirah Howell Mountain

92+ Points – Vinous Media / Antonio Galloni

Retro’s 2009 Petite Sirah Howell Mountain has come together beautifully over the last few months. Some of the early wildness that was present six months ago has subsided and been replaced by silky tannins for Petite. The exuberance and intensity of the fruit are there, but today the 2009 comes across as a bit compact. My sense is that the wine is going through a bit of a closed stage, as it was fabulous a few months ago.
2009 Petite Sirah Napa Valley 2017-09-06T10:00:40+00:00

93 Points – Vinous Media / Antonio Galloni

Interestingly, the 2009 Petite Sirah Napa Valley is much more expressive than the Howell Mountain today. Rich, explosive and beautifully layered, the 2009 shows off gorgeous fruit, expressive, floral aromatics and fabulous balance. This is one of the most refined Napa Valley Petites readers will come across. Today, the Napa Valley bottling is just beautiful.

Soif- A Daily Journal of Fruit, Structure, Varietal honesty, and Balance

Dark ruby, staining, with no edges. Tight and closed in, requiring gobs of air to blossom into a flowery nectar of dense fruit and base forest-floor nuances. Initial petrichor becomes round vegetal while mountain minerality gleams from all sides. Glowing readily of dark fruit and buttery pastry, everywhere are signs of uncomprimising structure and a balance of alcohol defying the apparent ripeness.Long-time readers will see a Petite Sirah and wonder where I will go with it. One of my favorite varieties, and have watched it morph across several forms over the years. Two decades ago, it was de rigueur for PS to be tannin-wracked and un-opening, requiring a patient palette and many years to unfold into a remarkable drink. Think: Cornas. Lately, the trend has been to capatalize on the glowing fruit-FWD-ness of the grape, eschewing ridiculous tannic structure if favor of softer, rounder examples destined for early-drinking. It seems almost as current somm-belief is to pigeon-hole varietal-correctness towards something quite opposite of what I cut my teeth on–Dry Creek Valley’s and Contra Costa County’s–pitch-black and concentrated, muscle-bound with tannin and glowing acidity, quite un-welcoming to the casual consumer. This bottle brings me back to the early days.In the mouth, teeth-staining raw brilliant fruit, encapsulated in dry, tongue-shredding structure. You have to wipe and cleanse your mouth to grasp the copious black cherry, raspberry and dark plum nuances. Thin across the middle, still with background Kool-Aid and unsweetened black tea swollen-creek, amber with detritus tannin and cool mountain run-off. Vegetal glimpses–both soft and swollen, green and firm–resound throughout, though blustery tobacco, wet leather, oak and the firm sweetness of ripe fruit triumph.
Quite possibly the most perfect example of what Petite Sirah can offer in the world.
2008 Petite Sirah Napa Valley 2017-09-06T10:00:12+00:00

93 Points – Robert Parker

The 2008 Petite Sirah Napa Valley bursts from the glass with racy blackberries, black currants, exotic spices, new leather and licorice. A big, full-bodied wine, the 2008 has come together beautifully since I tasted it last year. I especially like the way the wine continues to open up in the glass. Black olives, savory herbs and melted road tar are some of the notes that develop over time, adding further complexity and depth. This is a terrific effort. The Napa Valley Petite Sirah is made from Pope Valley fruit. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2023.
2008 Petite Sirah Howell Mountain 2017-09-06T10:00:21+00:00

94+ Points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Retro’s 2008 Petite Sirah Howell Mountain is deep, rich and racy. Firm mountain tannins frame an explosive cork of dark, inky fruit. An exciting, full-throttle melange of varietal aromas and flavors saturate the palate. The 2008 is intense, full-bodied and drop-dead gorgeous. Smoke, scorched earth, new leather and savory herbs inform the muscular, intense finish. I imagine it will still be compelling at age 20, but the tannins need time to soften. In 2008 frost lowered yields dramatically, resulting in an especially rich powerful wine. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2028.
2007 Petite Sirah Howell Mountain 2017-09-06T10:00:00+00:00

93 Points – Wine Advocate

Mike and Kara Dunn make these wines from Randy Dunn’s Park Muscatine Vineyard on Howell Mountain. I was especially impressed with the 2007, a vintage in which many of the wilder tendencies of Petite Sirah are handled expertly… The wine bursts from the glass with blackberries, blueberries, leather and spices, all of which flesh out beautifully in the glass. The 2007 is a deep, powerful wine bursting with dark, fragrant fruit. It shows fabulous intensity and finesse all the way to the deep, resonant finish… This is a fabulous showing from Retro Cellars.

92 Points Cellar Selection – Wine Enthuisiast

Another fine, lush and ageable Petite Sirah from Retro. You can drink it now because it’s so sweet and accessible in cherry pie filling, roasted meat and smoky oak flavors. But with a firm tannin structure, it will gain all kinds of bottle complexities over the next eight years.

90 Points – Wine Spectator

Nicely done, with aromatic details of smoke and violet and plenty of peppery highlights to the wild black berry, mineral and plum flavors. There’s lots of vibrancy to the fruit flavors, with a rustic, chewy, tannic profile.