Petit Verdot

By Lisa Rowlands

Thought to predate Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux, late ripening Petit Verdot has been a small but integral part of the blend for hundreds of years, however in the middle of the twentieth century many of the region’s Petit Verdot vines were replaced by more hardy, reliable varieties that were perhaps also considered to be on trend at that time.

Rarely seen elsewhere in France, the ‘little green one’ continues to be used sparingly by many estates in Bordeaux, most notably in the Médoc where it usually constitutes just a tiny percentage of the blend. An unusually high percentage - around six or seven percent - is used by Château Palmer in its Grand Vin and its second wine Alter Ego, where it balances the high Merlot content and enriches the wine with a deep, inky hue and violet aromas.

In recent years, perhaps due to the rise in popularity of Bordeaux style wines outside of France, Petit Verdot has become something of a fashionable grape in parts of the New World, particularly those with a warmer climate where the variety ripens more reliably. Today in parts of Australia, Chile, California and Washington State, producers are increasingly making rich, full-bodied and aromatic mono-varietal wines from this grape, many of which have superb potential to age.