Recently in the winery we bottled our second ever release of Petit Verdot. Petit Verdot is an interesting grape. It is historically one of the red varieties of Bordeaux. It is added to the Cabernet Sauvignon dominant blends of the Left Bank in order to enhance their color, depth and exotic perfume.
Like Cabernet Sauvignon it is rot resistant, thick-skinned, and tannic. It is the inkiest of the Bordeaux reds, and in warm years it produces full-bodied, age-worthy wines with a hint of spice that make an invaluable endowment to the stars of the Médoc.
Petit Verdot, however, is the last of the Bordeaux grapes to ripen. Its need a for warm, long harvest season explains why it is used so little in France yet thrives and is increasingly popular as a varietal wine in New World regions such as Australia, Chile and California.
Australia leads the pack with nearly twice the acreage planted as Bordeaux, roughly three times that of California and sixteen times that of Chile. It should be noted that the ‘Verdot’ of Argentina’s Mendoza region (in which there is very little planted) is believed to actually be Gros Verdot, an unrelated grape with far less character.
In 2008 we had a surprise opportunity to get our hands on some Petit Verdot from Grassini Vineyard in the Happy Canyon AVA on the east end of the Santa Ynez Valley. It was a huge hit but we never expected we would make it a regular on our wine list. However, in 2010 Curtis Vineyard in Foxen Canyon had some Petit Verdot available that was too good to pass up.
So here we are with our second vintage of a remarkable wine that we never planned on making in the first place, and we couldn’t be happier. You can expect to find the 2010 Petit Verdot on our shelves as early as this fall.
Carlos Mascherin, Santa Barbara Winery