Don’t let the name fool you. Although frequently used in petit quantities, Petit Verdot is a force to be reckoned with. This robust red wine grape is known its bold flavour profile, powerful tannins, and inky black hue – in short, a little goes a long way, which is why the grape is most commonly used in blends over varietal wines (although the latter is becoming more common in certain New World regions).
Petit Verdot finds its origins in South West France, where it is still popularly cultivated – including in Bordeaux – today. Beyond France, the variety is finding solid roots in Australia and California, as well as a handful of other American states. In Italy, the grape can be found in the Maremma region of Tuscany, where it is sometimes added to the region’s eponymous Super Tuscan blends; in South America, plantings are on the rise in Chile and Peru.
On the vine, Petit Verdot (whose name translates to ‘small green’), is very late ripening, which is a big reason why Bordelais winemakers favoured other varieties. Should weather conditions not be ideal, Petit Verdot vines will often struggle to develop properly. When ripe, Petit Verdot grape bunches form cylindrical shapes and are composed of small, dark black berries.
The flavours of Petit Verdot wines can fall across a broad profile spectrum. Most commonly, the grape is associated with adding notes of ripe black fruits, plums, cassis, graphite, and dried herbs to the blends in which it’s used. As Petit Verdot wines mature, stronger flavors of violets, dried flowers, and used leather are common.