I have always had a soft spot for Petit Verdot. Perhaps it is my intrinsic tendency to always back the underdog. As the least known and least grown of the Bordeaux red varieties, it is often dismissed as an unassuming blending grape.
However, here in Australia, we tend to espouse the spear carriers of the wine grape world; and are particularly fond of ‘late ripeners’, such as Petit Verdot, which flourish in our warmer climate.
Accordingly, Australia now has the largest plantings of the grape variety worldwide. It thrives in areas such as Mudgee and McLaren Vale, as well as most wine regions of inland Australia, where it is often bottled it as a single varietal.
A particularly fine example of single varietal, Australian Petit Verdot is the Anderson Cellar Block from Rutherglen in Victoria’s North-East.
One of the wine’s many positives is that it tastes just like it smells; and it tastes and smells just like an Aussie Petit Verdot. Signature aromas of ripe black berries, bramble fruits, leafy mint and tobacco are echoed on a rich, mouth-filling palate.
All of the requisite aged characteristics are also present and correct. Licorice, earthy beetroot, leather and subtle oak are balanced and, after 7 years in bottle, are still holding together magnificently with the primary fruit (no doubt this can be attributed to the variety’s firm tannins and ageing of the wine in new French oak).
Petit Verdot is sometimes criticised for lacking finesse and complexity. Indeed, this wine from Anderson comes in at 16% alcohol and is typically ‘straight-forward’. However, it is more pertinent to note that this is an incredibly elegant and linear wine, with fruit, (wonderfully mellow) tannin and oak all in perfect balance (so much so that the high alcohol content is barely perceptible…until you fall over when you get up from the table).
Petit Verdot matches wonderfully with game meats (try Mint and Rosemary Lamb) and rich fruitcake. It is also perfect if you are looking for an alternative to Aussie Shiraz (and I find sounds a bit more ‘French chic’. Oui?).
Cellar: Drinking beautifully now, or cellar for another 2 years.
Get it: Alas, the 2004 may be a little hard to come by now (sorry!), but the 2006 is also a fantastic drop and is available direct from the cellar door: www.andersonwinery.com.au
More: Learn more about Petit Verdot here →
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