Big and bold.
Loves being single or part of a group.
While this may sound like the beginning of a social media profile, it’s actually referring to Virginia’s idyllic, full-bodied, red wine grape – Petit Verdot.
The deep-purple, thick-skinned grape from Bordeaux France is not as well-known as its counterparts Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked.
In fact, there’s a lot to love about Petit Verdot.
For The Williamsburg Winery’s Winemaker Matthew Meyer, it was love at first sight and a love affair that continues year after year.
“What makes Petit Verdot so fabulous is just how good the wine is, even when we have a hard year of growing,” laughed Meyer, days after the release of the 2018 vintage of the Wessex Hundred Petit Verdot.
In 2018, the weather was unusually cold and wet in the winter and overly hot and humid in the summer. The unruly climate stifled many grapes, Meyer said, but not the Petit Verdot.
“2018 was one of the worst vintages ever and for a Petit Verdot to do as well as it did, is an absolute reflection of how consistent and well the grape does regardless of what Mother Nature throws at it,” said Meyer.
The Williamsburg Winery’s Vice President of Direct Wine Sales Kenny Bumbaco is admittedly also smitten.
“It is one of the few Virginia red varietals that consistently produces a rich, full-bodied red wine here,” said Bumbaco.
This month (February 2020), The Williamsburg Winery released its 2018 Petit Verdot to much approval.
“Our Wine Club Members are fascinated by Petit Verdot,” said Bumbaco. “In our tasting rooms and wine bars, our guests frequently ask to try Petit Verdot because it is something that is not commonly made into a single varietal wine elsewhere.”
Traditionally, Petit Verdot was only used as a blending grape for Bordeaux blends.
“Though it only represented a small percentage in blends, it was an important part and made a big impact,” said Meyer. “I liken it to putting a little pepper on steak. It just gives it that little something.”
Though, it’s gained popularity as a stand-alone wine over the years, Petit Verdot is not a wine you can find just anywhere.
In addition to the grape’s resilience during the growing season, Meyer also loves the wine itself.
“It’s a really good food wine,” said Meyer. “It has a lot of the berry fruits, violet and an earthiness to it. Its tannins are big and bold, but they are very approachable.”
Meyer suggested pairing a glass with smoked meats, heavy sauces, and different cheeses.
It would make a great addition to a romantic dinner at home…or out at The Williamsburg Winery’s Café Provencal. Hint, hint.