Peloursin is a French red wine grape varietal best known for its crossing with Syrah to make the red wine grape called Durif. The variety is believed to have originated in Isère from the northern Rhône-Alpes region of France.
Today Peloursin can be found in small quantities in California and in the wine region of Victoria in Australia and in select, very small sites in France.
Ampelographers believe that Peloursin originated in the Isère department near Grenoble somewhere along the Vallée du Grésivaudan in France. It is thought that the name Peloursin is derived from the local word pelossier used to describe the blackthorn trees that cover the region and whose fruit have a slight resemblance to the Peloursin grapes.
At some point in time, the grape was brought to the northern Franche-Comté and Savoie wine regions - but it is in the Isère that the vine was crossed with Syrah to produce the now appreciated Durif grape variety.
In the 1860s, French botanist François Durif kept a nursery of several grape varieties at his home in the commune of Tullins where he most likely had plantings of both Peloursin and Syrah. At some point the two vines cross pollinated and Durif discovered a new grape variety growing in his nursery. It was identified and named Plant du Rif (later named Durif) by ampelographer Victor Pulliat in 1868. Durif later made its way across to California where it was eventually named Petite Sirah (they have to rename everything). In the late 1990's researchers at the University of Davis in California, lead by Dr. Carole Meredith discovered that some of the California plantings of Petite Sirah were, in fact Peloursin, and that Peloursin had a parent-offspring relationship with Durif that likely sprung from a crossing with Syrah.
Today Peloursin is almost extinct in France though some attempts have been made in recent years to revive the varietal. In the Tarn department of South West France plantings of the grape vines have been added to an experimental vineyard in Peyrole. Jura wine producer Domaine Ganevat has plantings of Peloursin (called Gros Béclan) in a selected vineyard which they use in make their ‘vin de primeur’ blend.
Along with being a parent of Durif, Peloursin was also crossed with Persan to create Joubertin. DNA testing also suggests a relationship between Peloursin and Bia Blanc which share some morphological similarities, but the exact nature of that relationship is not yet completely known.
Plantings of Peloursin are often confused with its offspring Durif and this was particularly the case in California where many plantings of Petite Sirah / Durif were discovered to actually be Peloursin. In the Jura region, it is sometimes confused with both Poulsard and Béclan due to similarities in synonyms among the three grapes. In the Isère, Peloursin is sometimes confused with Dureza, one of the parent grapes of Syrah. Today, you would be hard pressed to find a wine made from 100% Peloursin.
This almost extinct French red-wine varietal - Peloursin is a vigorous grapevine capable of producing high yields and excessive canopy foliage if not kept under control with winter pruning and summer-time leaf pruning and thinning. The variety tends to be a mid-ripening grape varietal; whose main viticultural hazards are susceptibility to botrytis bunch rot and also black rot. Peloursin produces tannic red wines with a spicy, ripe, dark plum flavour with a broad palate. Though Peloursin the grape is best known for its crossing with Syrah to make the red wine grape Durif - a passionate few are trying to retain the diversity and unique character of this virtually extinct red grape varietal.