Now there is a name that kneads recognition, something a lot more wineries should get their fists into. When shaped into something special, one is rewarded with plenty deliciousness to feed thy wine soul.
I have the grave suspicion that many wine drinkers deprive themselves of the privilege to enjoy different wines due to the simple fact that they cannot pronounce its name. Loosely translated as “the little green one” in French, “Petit Verdot” doesn’t exactly hold the promise of something fruity either, and it certainly doesn’t help that it is most often hidden away in blends.
Being a late ripening varietal (and often harvested before fully ripe) it was traditionally reserved as a minor blending grape in the Bordeaux region of France. Lucky for us this “dough” was rolled out to the new world where it is bathed in sunshine to ripen to its full potential, adding a plethora of dimensions to the wine.
Petit Verdot has made a bow in some of the greatest Bordeaux blends in South Africa but only a handful of (awarded) winemakers have taken the leap of faith to bottle it as a single varietal.
“Petit Verdot holds the key to structure, colour and concentration,” says KWV winemaker Izelle van Blerk. “Add a mere 5% to any blend and Petit Verdot will unlock its essence.” It requires a vast understanding of the vineyard as well as a meticulous approach in the cellar, Izelle adds. “The relationship with Petit Verdot cannot be learned from books.
Experience with this varietal is a vital ingredient.” This includes tasting the berries several times in the vineyard, sorting bunches and berries, fermentation and extraction techniques, selecting the most suitable French cooper to supply your barrels and then to watch it being shaped into something magnificent.
The Mentors Petit Verdot 2016 from KWV is literally sold out but is an excellent example of a regional blend: grapes from Stellenbosch (to provide structure), Walker Bay (to add luscious red fruit) and Robertson (to add concentration and darker fruit).
The Walker Bay estate Benguela Cove has just released a single variety Petit Verdot made from a 100% estate grown grapes.
“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” Johann Fourie described the fate of Petit Verdot hardly being given the “single” platform for wine lovers to fall in love with it.
Johann also journeyed with Petit Verdot from vineyard to cellar to be able to understand what it wants. Made from a 0.95 hectare vineyard, a combination of techniques honoured the intrinsic qualities of this variety with only 660 bottles produced.
The maiden vintage of this Vinography Petit Verdot 2017 delivers on a montage of red and dark fruit, hemmed with a gentle perfume of lavender, freshly pruned roses and hints of Turkish delight. The power of this wine lies in its elegance and the delicate nuances that define a sophisticated wine.
“My continued faith in Petit Verdot nurtured a commitment that was concluded in this wine. Great care and focus have gone into this varietal, aligning viticultural and winemaking techniques to achieve what is desired to meet our expectations for this quality-single varietal bottling.”