Q: What's "Durif?"
A: Actually, it's Who's Durif?
Q: OK, so who's Durif?
A: And it's Petit Sirah.
Q: Wait, I thought you said it was Durif.
Well, you aren't the only one. Interestingly enough, we've got a common unknown (isn't that an oxymoron?) fact in play here. Ok, here goes:
Dr. Francois Durif was a French botonist who unknowingly, in the late 1800s, germinated the Peloursin flower with Syrah pollen in the hunt for a grape resistant to powdery mildew. Now doesn't THAT sound delicious with a delicious pork chop?
Well, assuming you're still with me, and I hope you are, the result of this effort was the newly created "Durif" grape, named by him (humility is awesome!) in 1880. Then, 4 years later, it was introduced to California and was commonly called Petit Sirah as the size of the fruit was smaller than the familiar Syrah grape, which they thought the Durif grape to be.
So, while you can start looking at the Wiki on all of this, I'll just talk a bit about this very nice bottle, the '04 Santa Cruz Mountain McDowell Valley Vineyard Durif. The grapes are from 60+ year old vines in Southern Mendocino County and the deep hue of this wine linked with the richness of big berries in the nose are the first things to confirm that fact.
A glass of this Durif is not something to be taken lightly. Paired with a generous family-style Italian dinner, it provides an excellent base with sufficient tannin and acid to balance with rich fennel sausage, red sauce and pasta. It's very clean mouthfeel is unique for a wine of this richness.
I'd jump at trying to find a nice bottle of Durif, or Petit Sirah, or whatever they're calling it in your town these days.
2004 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards Durif
Mendocino McDowell Valley Vineyard