Petit verdot is a red wine grape traditionally grown in France”s Bordeaux valley. Petit verdot is rarely grown in quantity and is most often used as a blending wine in Bordeaux wines.
The name petit verdot means “little green,” a reference to the difficulties of growing petit verdot grapes in the Bordeaux region. The grapes do not develop properly unless weather conditions are just right during flowering season. Petit verdot also ripens late in the Bordeaux grape-growing season. The season is often too short for petit verdot grapes to mature.
Planting petit verdot in Bordeaux is a gamble, so the grape is not grown in large amounts in its native valley. Winegrowers in California and Australia, however, have had great success growing petit verdot in their regions” longer growing seasons. When ripe, petit verdot grapes are small and black.
Petit verdot requires a long growing season with hot days and cool nights. Traditionally the grape is grown in the least fertile and best drained areas of a vineyard. While this may seem an impediment, it is these tough conditions that give petit verdot grapes their flavor.
Petit Verdot Taste and Aroma
Traditionally, petit verdot has been a blending wine. When used in a Bordeaux blend petit verdot grapes bring a deep purple to the wine. Petit verdot adds more to a blended wine than just appearance, however. A Bordeaux blend that includes the grape benefits from a spicy, floral aroma.
Vintners in California and Australia also use petit verdot in blended wines. Increasingly, however, vintners in these regions are using petit verdot to make single labeled wines. Such wines can age for decades, have a deep purple color, and flavors that include violet and leather tones. Petit verdot wines have been described as “massive” and “brooding.”
The aroma of a petit verdot includes cigar box, smoke, leather and earth tones. In addition to violet and leather, petit verdot flavors can include peppers, spices, smoke and minerals. A petit verdot is not recommended for those who enjoy a fruity wine: long aging in oak barrels usually fades fruit flavors in petit verdot.
Picking a Petit Verdot Wine
The Petit Verdot 2004 and the Petit Verdot 2006 are both considered excellent years. A young petit verdot may be overwhelmingly tannic, with flavors of banana and pencil shavings. Most petit verdot years benefit from several years of aging.
Osoyoos Larose Petit Verdot
A joint venture between French and Canadian winegrowers, Osoyoos Larose”s goal is to create Bordeaux-style wines that equal or exceed the standards of their French counterparts. The partnership has sixty acres of vineyards in the southern Okanagan valley in British Columbia, Canada.
Osoyoos Larose produces a number of wines, including petit verdot. Osoyoos Larose petit verdot comprises only 3.68 percent of their vineyards, and the grape is used primarily to produce Bordeaux-style blends.
Food Pairings and Petit Verdot
Like Nebbiolo d”Alba, petit verdot is best paired with red meat and aged cheese. The wine”s tannin levels would overwhelm subtler food choices, so its best used with the boldest of flavors.