Petit Verdot Grape Variety Characteristics & Wine Style Profile
Petit Verdot is mostly known for its role as a blending grape in Bordeaux-style blends, but this bold varietal is making a name for itself as a mono-varietal. Named for it’s small, thick-skinned berries, this grape is valued for its depth of color and tannic structure. Petit Verdot wines tend to have a dense, inky, violet-black appearance due to high levels of anthocyanin (a trait that is sought after due to its abundant antioxidents). It is one of the few varietals that will look deep purple in the glass.
It is known for intense violet aromas and flavors, as well as black plum, black cherry and lilacs. The thick-skinned berries give this grape great tannic structure and it can achieve higher levels of alcohol due to its long growing period. This can give it a full and plush feel in the mouth. It also has a cedar and spice element that is amplified by oak aging. Many of these traits liken it to a Syrah in style.
It once was one of the more important grapes for many Bordeaux wines in the Medoc during the 1700’s, but eventually became scarce. Due to phylloxera in the late 1800’s most of the Petit Verdot in The Left Bank was ripped up. Then what little Petit Verdot remained removed from the vineyards in Bordeaux following the frost of 1956. Petit Verdot began to reappear in California in the mid 1970’s— mostly in the Mt. Veeder appellation. Today, this grape does really well in many places—it’s made a name for itself in Virginia, is being grown more and more across California and Washington. Argentina, Australia, Chile, Italy, Portugal and Spain have all been having success with this grape as well.
Of course it is still used in the famous Bordeaux blends—the largest plantings of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux are probably located at Chateau Bolaire in the Bordeaux Superieur region, which will include up to 40 percent Petit Verdot in a cuvée. Interestingly, there are a few small producers in Bordeaux making wines from 100 percent Petit Verdot. The most famous estate is located in the Haut Medoc, Chateau Malescasse, which produces Le Petit de Malescasse. See below to check out other single-varietal Petit Verdots for yourself!
Recommended Petit Verdot Wines To Try
- Passopisciaro ‘Franchetti’ Rosso, Sicily, Italy
- B. Leighton Olsen’s Brothers Vineyard Petit Verdot, Yakima Valley, WA
- Abadia Retuerta P V Petit Verdot Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, Spain
- Pirramimma Petit Verdot, McLaren Vale, Australia
- King Family Petit Verdot, Monticello, VA
- Bodegas Enrique Mendoza Petit Verdot, Alicante, Spain
- Santa Carolina Gran Reserva Petit Verdot, Rapel Valley, Chile
- Trinchero Central Valley West Vineyard Petit Verdot, Napa Valley, CA
Written By Carrie Dykes
Carrie Dykes is wine writer and reviewer living in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Her by-line can be also be found in Hudson Valley Wine Magazine, InCider Japan, The Cork Report and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. She is an international wine judge for the IWSC, where she uses the skills she has learned in her WSET Diploma training.
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Violets, Lavender, Lilac
Dried Sage, Licorice, Fennel
Black Plum, Black Cherry
Cedar, Baking Spices, Vanilla
Acidity Medium Plus
Alcohol Medium Plus
Tannin Medium Plus