Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Petit Verdot Grape Gaining Singular Attention

Long known for its blending attributes, this Bordeaux grape is garnering fans for its single varietal wines.

Celebrating The Grape

Round Peak Petit Verdot Yadkin ValleyIn my home state, August is celebrated as North Carolina Grape Month. As part of the festivities, my friend Arthur Barham, of Merlot2Muscadine, organized a Zoom program in which North Carolina wine influencers each highlighted a favorite grape.

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I decided to elevate Petit Verdot. Petit Verdot is one of the six key red varieties of Bordeaux. (Malbec and Carmenere are the ones you might overlook!)

The name means “little green one” in French as it usually struggles to ripen until late in the growing season. Although traditionally reserved as a minor blending component, that dash of Petit Verdot can make all the difference.

Pepper On The Steak

As one winemaker put it, Petit Verdot is like the pepper on the steak. Without the pepper, it is not the same steak. Even 1 or 2 percent can make an obvious difference.

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Petit Verdot has spread to warmer climates, like North Carolina and Virginia, and winemakers are discovering that Petit Verdot can make bold, intensely fruity wines that can easily stand alone.

My first single varietal Petit Verdot was at Flying Fox Vineyard in Virginia. I came seeking Cabernet Franc and left singing the praises of their delicious Petit Verdot.

In North Carolina, the grape was introduced in the early 2000s and some of the earliest wineries to adopt it were Childress, Shelton, RayLen, and Shadow Springs. The Shadow Springs Petit Verdot I had during our last visit there was, in my estimation, their finest wine.

From Bordeaux To Yadkin Valley

A quick aside about climate change and Bordeaux grapes. Many wine enthusiasts can name the six red grapes of Bordeaux – but that number has grown. Due to climate change, Bordeaux is now allowing new grapes: Touriga Nacional, Marselan, Arinarnoa and Castets. You can expect to see these grapes be introduced gradually, but it shows the inseparable connection between climate and the ability of grapes to thrive.

For the Zoom program, I picked the 2016 Round Peak Petit Verdot, Yadkin Valley. I’ve liked this wine since we tried it at the winery in 2017 and it continues to be a tasty choice.

It has round flavors of sour cherry with a light to medium body. There are traces of smokiness and violets. This is an easy drinking, high QPR (quality price ratio) wine. SRP is $15.

I found my bottle in North Carolina, but I’ve enjoyed single-varietal Petit Verdot from Colorado, Washington, Virginia, and Sonoma too. Australia, Napa, South Africa and South America also produce Petit Verdot.

Are you in a red wine rut of Pinot Noir and Cabernet? Declare your independence with a bottle of Petit Verdot.

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