Friday, July 30, 2010
Image: Infinite Monkey Theorem Logo.
Petit verdot can be like drinking ink. That is if you can actually find it in a bottle of local wine.
It’s one of those blending grapes that garnered respect in a Bordeaux as a 5 percent grape. On its own? It’s just not that common. Colorado is no exception – and that’s too bad.
There are some reasons it’s not widespread in Colorado. First, it has a longer growing period than even cabernet sauvignon. That means an early fall frost or cold snap can doom the grapes. Beyond that, it’s a tough sell since no one knows what the heck petit verdot is anyway.
We’re here to tell you it’s a fun grape that is absolutely stellar on its own. Petit verdot is developing somewhat of a cult-like following in the Grand Valley AVA. More local producers are even making wines featuring this purple, dark and inky grape.
They are some of the most interesting wines around, and although very few are available in the bottle today, it is worth seeking them out.
Canyon Wine Cellars might be the only Grand Valley winery selling it right now. Its petit verdot is peppery and pungent, tasty and complex. It has a mile-long finish that sits on the palate like a coffee-flavored cigar. Open a bottle, take a sip, then decant. This wine needs a little air to let the grape speak on its own without overwhelming.
When blended with other Bordeaux grapes but still given the lead, the results are even more appealing. Canyon Wind’s IV is a prime example. Although this bottle retails for $100, it is a stellar wine worth considering. Its finish is one of the longest in the state of Colorado.
Infinite Monkey Theorem in Denver just released an excellent one in early July and will likely sell out quickly (the winery is already dry). Be prepared to pounce on a bottle if you see it. It’s petit verdot ($36), sourced from Palisade fruit, is tannic with some nice blackberry fruits hiding beneath. With air, the finish just keeps growing. Infinite’s 100th Monkey blend (leading with petit verdot and including cabernet franc, malbec, petit syrah and syrah) has wine of the year written all over it. It will sell for about $50 and is expected out any day now.
Guy Drew Vineyards out in Cortez is another rare vintner with petit verdot available, but a few more versions should hit retailers this summer.
Reeder Mesa has some in a barrel right now, and winemaker Doug Vogel is getting excited about its potential. See if you can convince him for a barrel sample next time you are in the tasting room!
I don’t expect petit verdot to dominate the Colorado grape-growing landscape. It’s such an intense grape that it will never be a true crowd pleaser on its own. It will have its hard-core fans and others who just don’t care for it. Count me in the former crowd. It’s unique flavors and deep colors are simply fun and are worth a try if the opportunity presents itself.
About the Author: Jacob Harkins is the founder and editor of ColoradoWino.com. He is being remunerated by the Wine Country Inn for his contributions to this blog.