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Petit Verdot

In warmer climes such as the vineyards of South Australia, South Africa and Chile, winegrowers like to vinify the “small green one” as a single-varietal. In France on the other hand, Petit Verdot grapes are usually blended with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Petit Verdot variety yields spicy, tannin-rich wines with aromas of violets and fruit.

Potent red wines from Petit Verdot

The Petit Verdot variety yields spicy, tannin-rich wines with aromas of violets and fruit. The grape’s name (“small green one” in French) references its pronounced acidity and thick skins that produce high tannin levels. Owing to its long vegetation cycle, it takes a very long time to ripen. If picked too early, it is not as easily digestible.
Aromas of dark berries are dominant. Good vintages will exhibit a decided spiciness, with refined hints of nutmeg and black pepper. If Petit Verdot grapes ripen in hotter climates, the tannins are softer and the wines generally have more body.
Petit Verdot has a strong red hue both in the bottle and in the glass. Along with high tannins and acidity, a high alcohol content is characteristic for the wine. A Petit Verdot wine has very good ageing potential as the high concentration of tannins and acidity makes it very long-lived. Properly cellared, it can continue maturing for many years.
The Petit Verdot grape variety produces 100% varietals and is often also used for blends. A blend with Petit Verdot will always be more muscular as it adds its acidity and high tannin content to the blend. In classic Bordeaux-style blends, it perfectly complements the other Bordeaux grape varieties Merlot, Cabernet franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, imbuing them with greater complexity.

Cultivation of Petit Verdot in Europe

Petit Verdot is a quality grape variety that probably originated in the Pyrenees. Its parent varieties have not yet been established. Morphological similarities with Merlot and Carmenère indicate that its pedigree lies with the family of Carmenet varieties.As the grape proved to be rather temperamental in the vineyard, its cultivation in Europe has declined sharply in recent decades. One obstacle to large-scale planting is the late ripening of the grapes. Their long growth cycle presents a problem in more northerly winegrowing regions in particular. The Petit Verdot grape only realizes its full potential when it has reached optimum ripeness. Thanks to the thick skins of the berries, it has good resistance to the botrytis mould. It is extremely sensitive to dry conditions, however.In Europe the vine used to be widely planted in the Bordeaux wine region. The vineyards of the world-famous appellations of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol in particular were planted with Petit Verdot grapes. However, its late ripening gradually made cultivation more and more difficult and eventually Bordeaux winemakers gave up growing it from the 1960s onwards. It experienced a minor renaissance in the 1980s. Currently it is again being grown in more vineyards in France, but on nowhere near such a large scale as in former times. It is particularly popular in the Médoc where it is still an indispensable component of Bordeaux blends. Top-tier estates such as Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Margaux and Château Latour do not want to lose Petit Verdot either.France is actually no longer top of the European league of Petit Verdot growing regions. Spain is now in the top spot, after wine pioneer Marqués de Griñon discovered this grape variety in the 1990s. His estate appellation D.O. Dominio de Valdepusa near Toledo produces varietally pure Petit Verdot wines. There are other significant plantings in Portugal and Turkey.

Petit Verdot wines from the New World

While Petit Verdot wines were gradually becoming less popular in northern Europe, winemakers in sun-drenched growing regions overseas saw their potential as the grapes are more reliably able to ripen fully in warmer climes. In Australia in particular, this variety’s share of overall vineyard hectarage has risen sharply in recent years and now stands at approximately 1,200 hectares. In the meantime South Africa has also become a leading producer of Petit Verdot wines. South African winemakers mostly use it for blends and, thanks to modern equipment, are achieving increasingly harmonious results.In North America Petit Verdot is cultivated on approximately 850 hectares. The dominant American producer is California, while South American countries Argentina and Chile are also growing increasingly larger quantities.Whether as a single-varietal or flavoursome contributor to a classic Bordeaux blend, why not try one of our wines made from the Petit Verdot grape? With just a few clicks you can order a Petit Verdot in our online shop. Or you can also buy the wines in our Coop stores too.