Wine Reviews Tasting Notes and Education for the Non-Snob, by Vino Joe, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Red Wine Review: Concannon Syrah

Concannon Syrah 2005 · Livermore Valley

Concannon Syrah wine bottle from Livermore Valley CaliforniaFor whatever reason, I’ve always associated Concannon with Petite Sirah — perhaps because they were the first California winery to varietally label the grape back in 1964. And their Petite Sirah generally rocks.

So it was with a little hesitation, overcome by curiosity, that I plucked this bottle from the shelf.

For those unaware, Petite Sirah and Syrah are completely different grapes. Syrah rootstalks were imported from other parts of the world (probably France), while Petite Sirah (which is neither small nor Syrah) is thought to be indigenous to California. We’ll discuss Petite Sirah at greater lengths another time — there’s actually an interesting story and some controversy surrounding its origins. For now, we’ll concentrate on Syrah — the one made by Concannon.

The vintage stocked at my local wine shop is 2005, and it’s drinking very nicely. You may be able to find the 2006 or the 2007 in your area; if so, and you’ve tasted it, please share your notes in the comments.

Tasting Notes: Concannon Syrah 2005

Open nose of mature, overripe black fruits — blackberry, blackcurrant, black raspberry, with hints of tobacco and earth. In the mouth it has a smooth, almost syrupy texture, ripe blackberry and black raspberry flavors. Acidity is mild, tannins are mild. Flavors evolve into a finish of blackberry, blueberry, mild tobacco, and a hint of dark chocolate that is held up with drying acidity. The alcohol is barely noticeable, which is pleasantly surprising for a wine with this much upfront, ripe fruit. OK on its own, perfect with lean-beef burgers, mild cheeses, blackened chicken, sloppy joes, tacos, swedish meatballs.

a-8 t-8 b-8 fc-7 v-7 ~ 88 Points

Bottom Line

A soft and jammy Syrah with enjoyable black berry flavors and perfect match for lean meat dishes. At under $10, a great value.

Where To Buy It

Find this wine at a retailer near you using Wine-Searcher, Vinquire, or WineZap

Learn more at the official website: Concannon Vineyards


  1. JD Engels says:

    One of the best red wines every in the $10-$15 price range. Used to find it in Rite Aid Drug stores and Military bases but now cannot find it anywhere, even online. Seems Concannon has replaced it with an indigenous California grape Sirah. Just not the same.

  2. Need some research – Petite Sirah, no matter how it is spelled, is a clone of Syrah. It is the blend of Syrah and Pelourisin (sp) that was an attempt to keep Syrah from getting mold in certain parts of France.

    • Micahel, thank you for your comment. My apologies for never getting around to writing the story / controversy behind the origins of Petite Sirah, but it seems that Wikipedia has already done that for me.

      I’ll stand by my statement that Petite Sirah and Syrah are two different grapes, in terms of how each behaves in various climates / soils and the wines each ultimately produce. I will agree that they are similar – and can taste similarly – but that doesn’t necessarily make them the same.

      Further, I’m not sure it makes sense to call Petite Sirah “a clone of Syrah,” as that gives the impression Petite Sirah was a naturally occurring strain or evolution of Syrah. In fact, most now believe it was an intentional crossing by a Dr. Francois Durif between Syrah and Peloursin (as you point out). The final result was a new grape originally called “Durif” and technically is termed a “crossing” rather than a “clone” or a “blend.”

      Think of it this way: if you were to call Petite Sirah a “clone” of Syrah, then you’d also have to call it a “clone” of Peloursin. But neither of those descriptors properly describe what Petite Sirah / Durif truly is, which is a crossing of the two varieties.

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