Petit Verdot: Cute Name, Big Flavor!

I’m taking a bit of a hiatus from the Wine Challenge this month, but that doesn’t mean I won’t continue discussing great wines. More importantly, if a good friend offers me a sample of something fun and interesting, I can’t resist taking a few notes along the way.

So, while this may be a wine assessment, it’s not officially related to The Challenge.

A bit about Petit Verdot:

  • Petit Verdot = “little green one” in French. It ripens late, so it needs warm climates to produce fresh fruit flavors instead of less palatable vegetal notes.
  • Originally a Bordeaux grape, winemakers used it to add color, tannin, and (at times) aromas to blends. In fact, it’s one of the five allowed varietals in blends that carry the “Bordeaux” name, though that may change very soon.
  • Distinct aromas of violets, herbs and blueberry are common “tells” for PV. These wines are incredibly dark and inky.
  • While rare to see as a single varietal, many winemakers in the last decade have embraced its many qualities. Pure PV wines often mature in new oak to soften the bold flavors and add greater complexity.
  • Look for high quality Petit Verdot wines out of Australia, Chile, and the USA. Colorado even grows it successfully — look for a future post on a PV from one of my favorite Colorado wineries.

Elevation Cellars Petit Verdot 2013

Who can pass up the offer to try a good-looking wine that features a rare(r) grape? Not this gal!

When trying to find information on this bottle, internet searches came up… well, empty. Elevation Cellars owns a tasting room in Woodinville, but I couldn’t find anything about the vineyards or the wine itself. Though this is an older vintage in all fairness, the shop page for the Petit Verdot shows the wine as “unavailable” with no additional information. Mildly frustrating, to say the least.

Thus, this assessment comes pretty close to a blind taste, because I have to rely on my senses to guess at how they made it. An important note: I actually tasted this on Tuesday, and then I went back this evening to review my WSET Level 3 notes on Petit Verdot for the introduction.

Wine Background

Producer: Elevation Cellars

Region: Columbia Valley, Washington

Style: Dry red

Grape: Petit Verdot

Appearance

Deep purple showing edges of garnet, likely due to its age. Originally I noted it as fully garnet, but a second look under better light revealed otherwise.

Nose

Clean, with medium intensity aromas of blueberry, black plum, dried blackberry, dried herbs, some (sigh… unidentifiable still…) florals, fig, vanilla, and cinnamon. The wine is still developing; it still has lots of bright fruit notes, as well as secondary aromas of baking spice and vanilla which suggest oak maturation.

Palate

Clean, with medium intensity flavors of vanilla, blackberry, leather, dried black cherry, and blueberry.

This Petit Verdot is dry, with medium plus acidity, intense high tannin (almost chewy), medium high alcohol and a full body. The finish has a medium length, but it’s almost overshadowed by the tannin.

Final Thoughts

Overall balance is good, but the tannin sticks out rather prominently, much like a violinist who bows in the opposite direction from his peers. Medium finish length and intensity of aromas/flavors stand firmly at “okay,” and there’s definite complexity with the presence of secondary (due to oak maturation: vanilla and cinnamon) and tertiary (due to bottle age: leather, dried fruit) aromas and flavors.

I’d assign this developing wine a quality rating of “very good.” While it had some time in bottle already as a 2013 (though I’m not sure how much oak it saw first), it could still go another five years and be fine to drink; it has the potential for further ageing because of its solid structure, high acidity and medium levels of intensity after eight years.

Honestly, I wish I knew more about this wine, because I’m intensely intrigued. The high tannin begs for big flavor foods with lots of fat, like a rich steak with mushrooms, grilled veggies and potatoes. Heck, I’d try it again alongside a hamburger topped with bleu cheese, bacon and avocado! Wine Folly even recommends pairing Petit Verdot with hot peppers… which is worth exploring on another day.

Thanks a million to my friend Danica for introducing me to this rare find! 🙂 Check out her own wine adventures on Instagram via The Wandering WineKnow.

Published by Allie

Foodie explorer with Stardew Valley dreams. Lover of wine but not beer, cheese but not milk, and all things chocolate. Working to learn as many self-sufficient, at-home food production skills as possible.

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