A few weeks ago I received two bottles of Glen Ellen wine and my first thoughts were 'why?' I haven't seen Glen Ellen in sometime and maybe that was because I very seldom check out the shelf with the $3 wines on it.
I do remember associating that label with the cheap, I did not say inexpensive but cheap wines found near the gallon jugs and other wines kept on hand for the local winos. To add to this disillusionment was the fact that both bottles were 1.5 Liters, another cheap wine association. I recieved a Chardonnay and a Petite Sirah. I decided to take the Petite Sirah to my son's lounge, pay a corkage fee and share with a few friends. I felt pretty comfortable that this was a so-so wine, I just sipped and swallowed as soon as it was poured. That was a mistake. My first taste was peppery anise. My buddy Mark on the other hand did the swirling thing, sniffed and swirled some more and swished a small sip before swallowing. His reaction was a bit surprising. "This is not a bad wine" was his first comment. "Some cherry, a little blueberry and plum" he said. I then followed suit and swirled the hell out it, then let it sit before swirling again and took some quick sniffs then tasted. He was right and I hate when he's right.
Glen Ellen brand has undergone a transformation. They are now partners with Concannon Vineyard and the Concannon family, and benefit from their stat-of-the-art winemaking facilities and access to Central Coast sources of fruit.
The vineyards that surround the Glen Ellen house produced America's first Petite Syrah in 1961 and the Concannon family has produce Petite Sirah ever since.
*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks representing the brand.
The aromas were more berry (blackberry, blueberry) with hints of licorice and leather. I got more of the plum and licorice or anise in the mouth and on the mid range finish. (not too short, not that long). I had the wine with what is becoming my regular Saturday night snack, a chicken quesadilla with plenty of jalapenos covered with salsa and guacamole. The wine held up pretty good with the peppery quesadilla, but was much better sipping afterward.
The suggested price on the 1.5L magnum is $9.99, but I did see on line for $7.49. That is very inexpensive and well worth that price. Maybe the best Petite Sirah you'll find under $5 for a standard 750ml bottle.