Wine Profile: Petit Verdot
Petit Verdot, despite how the name sounds, is anything but small in flavor. It is a bold, rich, intense wine most known as a blending grape in the wines of Bordeaux. But, can have the ability to stand on its own.
SMALL BUT MIGHTY
The name Petit Verdot means “little green one” most likely because it is such a late-ripening grape. It’s home in Bordeaux, which means that the grapes were often not quite ready when harvested ie, a little green. In Bordeaux, it is typically part of the blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot where it adds color, tannin, and aromas of violet to the blends. However, it is an incredibly powerful grape, so it usually makes up less than 10% of the blend. That means that Petit Verdot is rarely produced as a single varietal wine. That is, at least in its home in Bordeaux.
SHINE ONE LITTLE VERDOT
When Petit Verdot is planted in warmer, dry climates like Spain, Australia, and California, the grape itself really has the ability to shine. No more under-ripe, unappetizing grapes in these regions, it can take on a life on its own. Due to the difference in climate, the grapes can fully ripen and are able to produce still rich, but smoother and more rounded wine. These wines still shine as part of a blend, but they are also able to stand on their own.
INDEPENDENCE IS KEY
Petit Verdot can offer up rich, juicy black fruits, floral notes like violet and lilac, and fresh herbal notes like sage. Petit Verdot is also usually aged in oak to help soften some of its bold flavors and strong tannins. This oak aging will add flavors of vanilla, mocha, and other baking spices. In cooler climates, like it’s home in Bordeaux expect flavors of dried herbs, tart blackberry, blueberry, and violets. In warmer climates, like California Petit Verdot can have big, jammy flavors of blackberry syrup, ripe juicy plums, and candied violets. Making it a bigger wine that can be drunk on its own or with food.
DON’T FORGET THE MEAT
When it comes to pairing Petit Verdot with food, red meat is going to be your best friend. Think bold, rich red meat dishes like grilled flank steak or spicy sausage to stand up to such a rich and full-bodied wine, but lamb is our favorite. The wine is big, so your flavors have to be big too. If red meat isn’t your thing, Petit Verdot also pairs well with a wide variety of cheeses. Pecorino, Manchego, and Gruyere are great matches, as well as any aged cheese, like aged cheddar and aged Gouda. Remember, one of the rules of wine pairing is that tannins like fat. The fat content in your food can help cut through some of the richness of the tannins.
So, if you have a rich meat dish, a fatty dry cheese with some dry salami or you just want to drink a bigger bolder wine Petit Verdot will be your best friend. Don’t forget style doesn’t equal substance.