Your guide to Petit Verdot from varietal history to food pairings, tasting notes, pronunciation and more.
Petit Verdot is one of the five key red varieties of Bordeaux, providing much of the tannin, colour and weight to this region’s famous blend. However, the name Petit Verdot means 'little green one' in French, as it can struggle to ripen until late in the growing season. This can mean that many of the berries fail to turn purple and are left green at harvest.
As a result, the production of Petit Verdot in France has slowed in recent decades, as many of the viticulturists who grew tired of this demanding variety replaced their vines with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Yet, in the wine regions of the 'New World', this variety has found a new lease on life.
The rise of Australian Petit Verdot
While Petit Verdot was once considered a blending grape, growers in Australia, Argentina, Chile and the United States are beginning to champion this variety in its own right. Petit Verdot thrives in regions with long days and lots of sun, which makes many Australian wine regions perfect for this variety. The Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek have all excelled and are renowned for this emerging style. Other regions such as Perricoota, the Murray Darling and the Hunter Valley each bring characteristics of their own location and winemaking pedigree to Australian Petit Verdot.
Petit Verdot is a bold variety with a full-bodied structure, rich in darks fruits. Black cherry, violet, plum, sage and lilac notes are common. Strong and firm tannins and spice prevail due to the small berries and thick skin of this variety. Fans of Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvedre and Zinfandel will love this style.
Tasting Panellist Adam Walls is a fan of this variety and notes that Australian Petit Verdot has ‘an aroma of violets and it's full of black fruit flavours with some herbal bay leaf hints.”
Petit Verdot Food Pairings
Owing to its boldness and firm tannins, Petit Verdot is a perfect match for similarly rich dishes such as hard cheeses, roast lamb and rich meat dishes. Stefano Manfredi's potato gnocchi with burnt butter or Ian Parmenter's sticky spare ribs are both ideal recipes, allowing the wine to cut through their richness.
The strong tannins and high alcohol allow Petit Verdot to age beautifully, developing further depth and complexity over time. Petit Verdot can comfortably cellar for periods of 10 years or more as the tannins slowly soften. However, with the consistently high standard of this variety being produced, there is no real need to wait. Why not try this vibrant style today?