When one thinks of great wines, the growing region of Bordeaux and the Chateaus of the Right and Left bank must surely spring to mind. Petrus, Margaux, Lafite and Chateau D Yquem are names that most avid wine lovers are familiar with, more than likely most of us have not had the privilege of tasting all of them so I speak not from personal experience, although I have been lucky enough to taste a few.
Merlot is the most extensively planted grape varietal in Bordeaux, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; Malbec and Carmenere are rarely used any more. Then there is the Petite Verdot grape, the bridesmaid of Bordeaux which many wine-makers believe, has a bright future in the state of Virginia. Mostly recognized as a blending component, more wine-makers are bottling Petite Verdot as a single varietal wine [yours truly included].
Petite Verdot is one parent of Tressot, the other being Duras, a grape from the upper Tarn Valley near Toulouse. It also more than likely predates Cabernet Sauvignon, but origins are unclear.
So the million dollar question. If Bordeaux [arguably the most famous wine region] is not using it anymore, focusing instead on the Merlot and two Cab grapes, why are we in such a tizzy about it on this side of the pond?
Petite Verdot which means “small green” alludes to the problem it has of ripening in cooler climates, but get it ripe in the vineyard [it is the last of the Bordeaux grapes to ripen] the wines turn out to be inky and tannic; with banana aromas that turn into more intriguing aromas of violets and leather as the wine matures.
So does it’s value lie in its ability to add complexity, color and tannin to another wine [hence a blending grape] or does it have the ability to stand along the Cabernet’s and Pinot Noir’s of the world as a stand alone wine? I do not know so that is why we are experimenting doing both, using it as both a blender and a stand alone, although the 2009 has 8% Cabernet Sauvignon blended into it. Time will tell so check back with me in a few years for a straight forward answer.
Tomorrow sees the official release of our 2009 Petite Verdot, a wine made in such small quantities that if it last longer than 2 months in the tasting room I will be truly astonished. It was barrel matured for 10 months in American oak barrels and was bottled un-fined and un-filtered in July of last year. Our version tends to be a bit more fruit oriented with black berry, the predominant aroma and flavor for me. The oak is quite integrated but easily recognizable on the palate, so if you had the patience, some time in the bottle would do it no harm whatsoever.
It is quite easily consumed on its own but screams for a grilled steak, try a green pepper sauce which I think will marry well with the wine.
I hope you enjoy it