Wednesday Dinner at Sage in Newport Beach – Petite Sirah

Sage is a quiet, unassuming and excellent locals restaurant located in the East Bluff area of Newport Beach just north of Fashion Island. Chef owner “Rich” has built a loyal local following primarily by word of mouth. I understand, but haven't confirmed, that Zagat reviewers have given this restaurant in an odd location a boost. So much in fact there were two parties of 10 or more on a Wednesday night. This in a restaurant that probably serves no more than 50-75 (pending weather and outdoor seating).

1997 La Jota Petite Sirah Howell Mountain, Napa Valley

Thick, inky and brimming with huge blackberry flavors, currant and hints of white pepper. The wine blasts through the front palate exploding again in the mid and then finishing eloquently with power. A bit of soft and subtle teeth scraping tannins just to remind you that this is Petite Sirah. A wonderful wine with the roasted duck and winter vegetables. I'm not sure what stained my mouth more, the La Jota or the tasty red beets. 92 points

1997 Turley Petite Sirah Rattlesnake Acres, Napa Valley

Packing more than 15 percent alcohol I'm told that this wine is both rare and highly rated. Had I not known the origin of this wine, there's no way I would have guessed petite sirah. With almost a Pinot Noir like nose with high alcohol I would swear it smelled and tasted like someone cut up aluminum foil or other metallic alloy and blended it with the wine. Yeah. I got a lot of bright fruit like strawberry and perhaps some raspberry. But this wine is awkward, unbalanced and lacking any hint of structure. As a result, it just falls apart. This wine sucks. 74 points (if I had to drink, I guess I would)

1997 Glen Fiona Syrah, Walla Walla, Washington

Another inky and aromatic wine that shows so much dark fruit you'd think you were biting into a blackberry or currant with a tinge of spice. Tannins are less refined than the La Jota, but the overall structure and power of this wine shows its a worthy and frankly enjoyable effort. Huge. 89-90 points