Tasting No. 222 (Virtual) – September 28, 2020 – Petit Verdot

Club del Vino


Tasting Overview

Courtesy of winesofchile.org

The  tasting is limited to two wines proposed by the presenters as part of the tasting series on varietals. The main objective of the tasting is to find out the salient and specific features of Petit Verdot and the character of the wines made of this grape.

Petit Verdot is a variety of red wine grape, principally used in classic Bordeaux blends. It ripens much later than the other varieties in Bordeaux, often too late, so it fell out of favor in its home region. When it does ripen it adds tannin, color and flavor, in small amounts, to the blends.

Even though Petit Verdot is mainly used in blends, it is also used to produce varietal wines like the ones included in this tasting. Petit Verdot wines exhibit aromas of black fruit ranging from plum, blackberry and blueberry to slightly lighter black cherry. Flavors reflect the aromas with added complexity of herbal and floral notes such as violet, lavender, sage, and dried herbs. Most producers will oak age this wine to soften it and add flavors of vanilla, hazelnut and mocha. And occasionally, the wine can be a bit smoky and rustic, like smoked meats. The wine is dry and full-bodied with high tannin, bold fruit and medium-plus acidity.

Petit Verdot pairs extremely well with lamb. Other suitable meats include roast pork, burgers, and Chinese BBQ pork and beef. Petit Verdot also works well with Mexican dishes such as adobo and mole.

Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenters: Jorge Claro, Cristián Santelices

The reference wine is:

2016 Ruca Malen, Petit Verdot, Mendoza, Argentina

The second wine is:

2014 Perez Cruz Chaski, Petit Verdot, Maipo Valley, Chile

 The menu is up to each participant discretion

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Jorge Claro, Clara Estrada, Michelle Fryer,  Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Orlando Mason, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, Carlos Silvani.

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2016, Ruca Malen, Petit Verdot, Mendoza, Argentina 

The Wine: The intense aromas of fresh plums and cherries are harmoniously balanced with subtle notes of sweet roses and spices and soft hints of caramel, vanilla and moka. A full-bodied wine, concentrated fruity flavors, a balanced acidity and a velvety texture. Sweet tannins last through a long and persistent finish. Ruca Malen Petit Verdot is aged in new and second-use 80% French and 20% American barrels for 12 months.

Variety: 100% Petit Verdot; Store in Barrica: 12  months,  80%French barrel and 20% American; Alcohol: 13. 4%; Location: Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza

The Winery: Ruca Malen’s dream began in 1998 when Jean Pierre Thibaud and Jacques Louis de Montalembert confessed the illusion of having their winery in Mendoza with a portfolio of premium quality wines. With the addition of Noelia Torres in 2017 as an enologist, the winery began to travel a path of innovation presenting a completely renewed wine portfolio. Combining grapes from Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco in most of its lines, Noelia proposes wines of cosmopolitan palate and local value that reflect the restless and bold spirit of the winery, and bets on the conquest of curious consumers by nature, for whom wine is synonymous with enjoyment.

Read more abot the winery here: https://www.bodegarucamalen.com/en/

The Mendoza Wine Region: See notes about the Mendoza Region here: The Mendoza Wine Region

2014, Perez Cruz Chaski, Petit Verdot, Maipo Valley, Chile 

The Wine: The 2015 Petit Verdot, under the Quechua name of Chaski, which means “messenger”, is complex and elegant, with grapes harvested by hand in the Fundo Liguai de la Viña, in the Maipo Alto, has notes of red and black fruits, herbs, tobacco, black pepper and species. On the palate it is structured, fresh and balanced, with a particular mineral note, silky and firm tannins, and a delicious and powerful harmony. Ideal to serve at 18oC, and enjoy it with red meats, Italian food, ripe cheeses.

The grapes that give rise to Chaski Petit Verdot were harvested during the second week of May, seeking the correct maturation of the tannins and aromas of the variety. Clusters and berries were manually selected at special tables, and then the grapes were introduced to the pond gravitationally.

The extraction was performed by cold pre fermentative maceration for 5 days at 9oC. During the alcoholic fermentation careful pumpings were made to obtain a soft but concentrated structure. Finally, the total maceration period was 25 days. Malolactic fermentation took place in French oak barrels.

Other Tasting Notes: The aroma is complex and elegant, highlighting its character and identity, with notes of red fruits, herbs, tobacco, black pepper and species. On the palate it is well structured, fresh and balanced, with a particular mineral note, its tannins are soft and the final is long and persistent.

Variety: 100% Petit Verdot; Store in Barrica: 14 months, 100% French barrel (50% new and 50% first use); Yield: 4.5 ton /ha; Alcohol: 14. 5%; Harvest: Mid-May. Total Acidity: 3.66 gr/l; Method: Harvest by hand; Maceration: 25 days.

The Winery: Pérez Cruz is a family vineyard specializing in red wines produced and bottled in origin, reflecting the character and identity of Maipo Alto. Located in Fundo Liguai, Huelquén s/n, Paine, Maipo Alto, Chile. On the foothills of the Andes range, its soils are deep, stony and low in nutrients. The climate is Mediterranean, with dry summers of great luminosity and thermal amplitude. Ideal combination to produce high quality wines.

With more than 12 years of experience, Viña Pérez Cruz continues to stand out for its wines from Maipo Alto, where the quality of the vineyards has achieved the elaboration of great exponents today recognized worldwide. Robert Parker gives great ratings to Viña Perez Cruz. The latest edition of Wine Advocates magazine on June 30, Robert Parker delivers 92 points to three wines from the Vineyard.

A 50% jump in your wine shipments around the world is what you hope to give the Pérez Cruz Vineyard – linked to the family of the same name – between this year and 2021. According to the company’s general manager, José Ignacio Laso, the plan is to go from exporting about 100 thousand boxes, and reaching the end of the decade at 150 thousand boxes. The investment was US$ 15 million to increase its production capacity.

Read more about the Winery here: https://www.perezcruz.com/en/vina/

The Maipó Valley: (Wine-Searcher.com) The Maipo Valley is the home of viticulture in Chile. The first vines were planted around Santiago at the city’s birth in the 1540s, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that viticulture began to expand significantly, as an indirect result of entrepreneurial Chileans growing rich from the mineral wealth found in the Atacama Desert to the north. It became fashionable for these wealthy individuals to travel to France, and they inevitably returned home with vines to plant in their new, French-influenced wine estates. The vineyards of Cousiño Macul, Concha Y Toro and Santa Rita were developed during this period, and they remain today important names in the Chilean wine industry. Read more about Maipó Valley here: https://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-maipo+valley

Similar Wines

Two participants tasted different Petit Verdot as follows:

2015 Terre Di Talamo Per Cecco, Marema, Toscana, Petit Verdot. The color is dark purple, strong in tannins. A full bodied wine with 14.5% alcohol content. It has a good long finish. It benefits from opening and airing the wine a few hours before drinking.

James Suckling (93). “This is a linear and tight Petit Verdot with black berry, licorice and ink character. Full yet tight and very polished with fantastic focused fruit and precision. Long and flavorful”. US$ 35  at Total Wine.

 Hello World Petit Verdot, La Mancha, Spain. The cork is  champagne-like with a larger head and a short neck; the cork cover had a small strip to pull it and break the packaging, and then the cork could be easily removed by gently pushing it upwards. No corkscrew or sharp instrument is required to  open the wine.

The color is a deep ruby. The aroma and initial taste were unpleasant. Barely open, the aroma struck me as very unpleasant (drugstore). The taste very acidic and strong. A half hour later I tried it again and the initial unpleasant sensation had disappeared while it felt unscented, with a distant smell of wood. The acidity had also disappeared. Then I tried it with two cheeses, a French Comté and a Manchego, that paired very well with the wine. The quality of the wine improved markedly as did the value for money. The wine had long legs or tears and a reasonable finish. US$ 10 at Total Wine.

Technical Notes 

Compiled by Jorge Claro and Cristián Santelices

Originating in Bordeaux, where the soil produces light wines, the Petit Verdot grape was always used to enhance them, thanks to its structure and supplementary color,it is used in small quantities when it comes to providing character to some of the most important labels of Médoc. But without a doubt it is the grape less appreciated by the bordeleses, since in Galic lands it provides a rustic, vigorous and quite herbal character. This, however, does not detract from merit or importance. Quite the opposite.

In the New World, however, it is increasingly cultivated and appreciated in areas such as Argentina, Australia, California and Chile to achieve an opposite effect: softening the power of Cabernet Sauvignon.

La Petit Verdot grape demands work in the vineyard, because it is a high yielding strain. Hence many prefer to avoid it. However, when given due attention and care, petit Verdot develops a very different personality in dry and sunny climates. This allows another ripening point, which makes your wines voluptuous, but at the same time rounded.  A common feature of the New World Petit Verdot is The aging in barrels for a period never less than the year, time that these reds demand to round their character.

In Argentina and Chile,more and more people think that this grape has the potential to write its own history from varietal wines, even if these pose a new challenge for viticulture. In this sense, Argentina is taking its first steps in exploring Petit Verdot as a varietal. Lover of the warm climate, it expresses its full potential in Mendoza and La Rioja, where it reaches its optimum maturity. In many respects it resembles Tannat and Malbec: dark color, high doses of anthotians and complex nose. The truth is that it gives rise to wines of great character and elegant finish, but above all,different. As with Malbec, it demonstrated very good adaptability to the climates and soils of Mendoza, San Juan and La Rioja, where it adds about 600 hectares. Today, in tune with those achievements, many embark on a new challenge with Petit Verdot as a standard.

In Chile, the red grape pichintún (a litlle bit) is expanding. At the last wine fairs, in the midst of the new and old country stars, País and Cinsault, a new force has appeared: that of the Petit Verdot. A red grape strain that has been in our vineyards for decades, but traditionally only a “pichintún” has been used, for its uncontrolled strength of tannins and acidity.

In Chile, Petit Verdot is known to give strength and freshness to the great Carmenére de Colchagua. We know it because it is one of the secondary that form the mixture of the great reds of Bordeaux, in the background always, to leave cabernet sauvignon and Merlot in front.

Why it appears now more forcefully and accessible, and not before, it’s a good question. Answering it leads us to think of the important, if small group of curious people who are always looking for the new and different. For them, therefore, the Petit Verdot was ready to be the protagonist with its great strength of tannins and very rich acidity. These two features are important when you want to make a wine that can withstand the years of keeping in your bottle, but not necessarily wines to drink and enjoy now.

The follwing references have been used for this Blog on Petit Verdot

  1. Historia Petit Verdot (Wine folly). https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/guide-to-petit-verdot-red-wine/
  2. Historia Petit Verdot (MasterClass). https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-petit-verdot-grapes-wine-region-and-pairings#where-does-petit-verdot-grow
  3. Historia Petit Verdot (WSJ). https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB961160609233601386
  4. Historia Petit Verdot (Wikipedia). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petit_Verdot
  5. Historia Petit Verdot (intoxreport). https://intoxreport.com/2011/11/15/petit-verdot-goes-gangbusters-in-ripley-ohio%E2%80%94believe-it-or-not/
  6. Historia Petit Verdot (the wine cellar insider). https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/wine-topics/wine-educational-questions/grapes-for-wine-making-flavor-characteristics-explained/petit-verdot-wine-grapes-flavor-character-history/
  7. Vino Chaski. https://massanois.com/product/perez-cruz-petit-verdot-chaski-2015-750ml6/
  8. Vino Chaski. https://www.vivino.com/vina-perez-cruz-petit-verdot-chaski/w/1231597
  9. Vino Chaski. https://www.perezcruz.com/lanzamiento-2011-chaski-petit-verdot-2008/
  10. Vino Chaski Ficha.  https://www.perezcruz.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Chaski-Petit-Verdot-2014-Es-Web.pdf
  11. Uva Petit Verdot en Chile. https://www.winesofchile.org/en/chile-a-wine-producing-country/wine-diversity/petit-verdot/
  12. Uva Petit Verdot en Chile. https://www.lanacion.com.ar/lifestyle/cinco-petit-verdot-para-los-que-quieren-probar-un-vino-distinto-nid2064041/
  13. Vino Ruca Malen. https://www.southernwines.com/ruca-malen-terroir-series-petit-verdot-2015/wine-online.cfm
  14. Vino Ruca Malen. https://www.wine-searcher.com/find/ruca+malen+terroir+series+petit+verdot+uco+valley+mendoza+argentina
  15. Vino Ruca Malen. http://opiciwines.com/wines/petit-verdot-reserva/
  16. Vino Ruca Malen. https://www.bodegarucamalen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Ruca-Reserva-Petit-Verdot.pdf
  17. Uva Petit Verdot en Argentina. https://blog.winesofargentina.com/es/petit-verdot-un-tinto-que-conquista-curiosos/


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