This week, we’re looking at another fairly obscure wine packed with character and flavor: Petit Verdot. This intense vintage has seen a steady increase in popularity over the last few years and is well regarded for its rich color and unusual taste. A bit of a “love it or hate it” wine, those on the lookout for something a little different should definitely give it a try.
Petit Verdot is a bit of a New World wine success story. The grape was originally grown in France where the shorter seasons prevented the grape from ripening completely. This meant that the tannins did not reach full maturation, resulting in an unpleasant bitter taste. For this reason, the grape was originally only used to add color to other wines. Fortunately, once the grape reached areas like California and Australia, it flourished in the longer warm seasons and became highly desirable and sought after.
The growing region can have a significant effect on the flavor profile of Petit Verdot. Grapes grown in colder climates, for example, will result in a tart and herbal wine. Conversely, grapes grown in warmer climates will have a more pronounced sweet, fruity flavor. Regardless of the region, however, there are certain flavors present in pretty much all bottles of this particular wine. Most prominent are flavors of plum, blackberry, blueberry, and other dark fruits. Alongside these fruit flavors are herbal and floral notes of violet, lilac, lavender, and sage. This combination of dark fruit and floral notes results in an intriguing and unique wine.
As it’s often used to add color to other wines, it’s not surprising that Petit Verdot is an extremely dark wine. In addition, it has a heavy body and a very high tannin content. It’s also fairly acidic. To best enjoy Petit Verdot, try decanting it for at least two hours before drinking to soften some of the tannins.
Petit Verdot pairs extremely well with lamb. Try having a glass (or two!) with some lamb stew to really bring out the flavors. Other suitable meats include roast pork, burgers, and Chinese BBQ pork and beef. Petit Verdot also works well with Mexican dishes such as adobo and mole.
The intense flavors of Petit Verdot combine well with mushrooms, truffles, black beans, and kidney beans. It’s also suitable to pair it with dishes that include olives, eggplant, and nuts.
Try pairing Petit Verdot with aged and smoked cheeses. Aged cheddar, gruyere, and gouda are particularly well suited to this wine.
Wines to try
Petit Verdot is not produced in any great quantity so it can be a little difficult to find. Despite its scarcity, however, it is possible to find acceptable bottles for as little as $12.
Ruca Malen Reserva Petit Verdot ($17)
This Argentinian bottle has a pleasing combination of tannins, fruity flavors, and vanilla notes.
Seven Hills Petit Verdot McLellan Estate ($26)
An excellent of Petit Verdot from the Washington State region, this wine is fruity and floral in equal measure.
Terre di Talamo Per Cecco ($33)
Hailing from Italy, this wine has an intense spiciness and juicy fruit flavor.