This intense, rustic grape is a late ripener, and traditionally used in the Bordeaux region of France to add color, tannin and fruit to red wines. Its name (“little green”) comes from the fact that if the weather isn’t right during flowering, the cluster doesn’t ripen evenly, leaving undeveloped grapes. And because it only ripens well every third or fourth year, it has fallen out of fashion in France. But in Washington, where it ripens well in warmer vineyards, Petit Verdot has found fans for its big fruit and intensity. Last year, our judges identified it as an emerging variety in Washington state, and we tasted wines made of this grape this year. The lineup of about a dozen wines submitted for tasting was robust in color and flavor, and the judges remarked on their savory meat notes, such as bacon and game, as well as chocolate, coffee and spice notes, and dark fruits such as plum, black cherry and blackberry. These five rose to the top, showing a balance between the big fruit and a mitigating acidity, softer tannins and judicious use of oak. Not for the faint of heart, these wines are big boys, with a lot of flavor and bold personalities. For more of our annual Washington Wine Awards coverage, including Red and White Wine Winners, Coolest Label, Best Emerging Winery and more, go here.
Dusted Valley 2011 Petit Verdot, Columbia Valley, $42
Tero Estates 2010 Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley, $38
Sparkman 2011 Underworld Petit Verdot, Yakima Valley, $48 SOLD OUT
Silvara Vineyards 2011 Petit Verdot, Columbia Valley, $32
Watermill 2010 Estate Petit Verdot, Walla Walla, $32