Petit Verdot

This week we are taking a look at one of the lesser-known Bordeaux blending grapes – Petit Verdot. Traditionally used as a minor component in the region, Petit Verdot adds a dark purple hue, floral and spice tones and firm tannins to red blends. However, these positive attributes it is able to lend to Bordeaux blends from France, it has one major setback; the varietal has a hard time maturing in the cool climate there. This has made Petit Verdot decrease in use and popularity for French producers over the second half of the 20th century.

But, this has not held the varietal back. Petit Verdot has become a more prominent player in California and Australia where producers are keen on creating French style Bordeaux blends using the traditional varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. In these warm, dry climates of South Australia and Northern California, the grape tends to reach fuller maturity and ripeness levels. This has allowed Petit Verdot to not only survive, but thrive with acreage growing in both regions.

While many of the New World producers use the varietal as a minor blending component, an ever-growing number are beginning to make single varietal labeled wines as well. These wines tend to be the highly extracted and aromatic reds with dark flavors and rich tannins that the New World wine lovers are attracted to.

While Petit Verdot is on the rise as a single varietal, it is still fairly difficult to find these bottling. Some of the more prominent names in the wine world who produce Petit Verdot in a 100 percent bottling include: Terra Savia from Mendocino, Murphy-Goode in Alexander Valley, Marques de Grinon out of Spain’s Dominio de Valdepusa region, Escafeld in the San Antonio Valley of Monterey, Washington States’ Olsen Estates, De Bortoli in Australia and Door County’s own Stone’s Throw Winery.

Stone’s Throw Winery Petit Verdot Door County/Clarksburg Old Vine 2009

Appearance: deep and dark purple color

Aroma: dark berry and black plum aromas with a touch of cigar box

Flavors: lush tannins with dark berry and fruit flavors carrying through, a little cigar and leather hit the mid-palate in a nice way

Finishing Notes: full, long finish with the dark berry and lush tannins all the way to the end, rich and full-bodied

Perfect Pairing: This Petit Verdot needs a hearty meat dish with some flavor, we would suggest this be served alongside a roast lamb or lamb stew, roast duck with a dark berry glaze or pork spare ribs with a rich bbq sauce. Enjoy!

WINE:30 is written by Karl Bradley and Jody Wuollett, who are both longtime residents of Door County. Jody is the owner operator of Chop Restaurant in the Sister Bay Country Walk Shops and Karl is the General Manager and Executive Chef of the Mission Grille in Sister Bay. They have both been awarded the first level of certification from the Court of the Master Sommeliers.