I have a tendency to root for the underdog. I credit my love of petit verdot to this trait. Anytime I see a wine that boasts more than a miniscule 5% of the grape, let alone, a majority, my faith in mankind and the world in general is restored. “Good for you, petit verdot! Keep on fighting!”
This member of the Bordeaux gang is a late bloomer, literally. If it’s not ready to be plucked it’s very temperamental, as in overly acidic and not tasty. Though even when fully ripe and at its best, my opinion is petit verdot is an under-appreciated grape that is merely thrown into Bourdeaux for its color, instead of for its delightful flavor profile and powerful tannins. This is why we so often see the 5% next to it on labels.
Why all this banter about this particular grape? I’m glad you asked. In perusing options for my Club W box some weeks ago, I stumbled on the 2012 Big Beat Red Blend. It’s a Bordeaux, which I am always a fan of, whether the blend in question elevates petit verdot or not. However, this one does give my pet grape some legitimate airtime. Instead of following the typical cabernet sauvignon and merlot routine, the makers of this wine started with petit verdot then added cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec and merlot. What a splendid idea.
On the nose there is cola and cherry – not cherry cola, to be clear. The cola fragrance is more of a caramel or roasty sweetness, and the cherry is that smoky fruitiness I love so much. The palate is hard to describe in that it so different from other Bordeaux wines. There is a borderline sweetness that almost gives me the knee-jerk reaction I have when I stumble into a sweet red. I don’t mean to confuse, I enjoyed this wine very much – it was just unexpected. I won’t call the flavor any berry, as there is no after note of tartness. I will say it’s more of a berry candy. There is a subtle sweetness that makes this wine incredibly smooth, but it still packs a mouthful of tannins and offers a long finish.
I will confidently say that leading a Bordeaux blend with petit verdot makes for a very enjoyable wine. I plan to order a few more bottles of this one. It was a brisk 55 degrees in Cedar Park, Texas, last night, but I can only imagine how pleasant a glass of this would be on a truly cold night. It is also a fine companion for big meals. We paired it with slow-cooked venison tenderloin, potatoes and caramelized onions.