Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Exploring Petit Verdot

The primary focus of this online wine journal has on wine and travel, with an occasional detour into wine education and other means of exploring the wine world. I don’t do the simple “buy a wine, drink it, give an opinion” sort of entries which seem to dominate other wine blogs. But in this case I am going to make an exception because the wine I had a couple nights ago was an eye opening experience and which taught me a few things

A couple years ago I was collecting bottles of the some of the less frequently consumed Bordeaux varietals, Malbec and Petite Verdot. The goal was to train my palate so that I could distinguish what these wines contributed to a Meritage. These wines usually make up less than 10% of a Bordeaux blend wine.

After going through a dozen or so different bottles of these two varietals from various California wineries in about a year or so, I thought I had a pretty good idea of the characteristics of these varietals. I also (prematurely) came to the conclusion that while Malbec is a fine “stand alone” varietal Petit Verdot was better kept as a blending wine.

Well, the other night I was going through my wines and I found that I still had a bottle remaining from this exploration of minor Bordeaux varietals- a 2004 Trinchero Napa Reserve Petit Verdot. After decanting it for about an hour I decided to enjoy it with a Turkey Meat Loaf and a Caesar Salad.

I now have to confess that my judgment of Petit Verdot was probably premature. This is an absolutely fabulous wine, although the fact that it also contains 14% Cabernet Sauvignon may be contributing to the wine what the others I had tried were lacking as they were all 100% Petit Verdot.

This wine is extremely well balanced, plenty of dense and concentrated fruit with loads of blackberries, black currant and a little spice. It has firm but supple tannins and an awesome full-mouth feel from front to mid palate and a lingering finish.

This Petit Verdot comes entirely from a three-acre block at Trinchero’s Main Street Vineyard located just east of Highway 29 at the southern end of the St. Helena AVA. Most of their Petit Verdot goes into their Meritage, so this is a very small production wine at only 1800 6 pack cases.

The price is a little steep at $50 but I am convinced from this experience that I need to return to exploring this varietal. Unfortunately very few wineries produce or release to the public bottles of 100% Petit Verdot. If there are any out there you would like to recommend, let me know!