Background of Petit Verdot
Petit Verdot is one of the five main grapes in a classical modern Bordeaux blend. Verdot translates roughly as “green one”. This grape tends to be under ripe and in cool season Petit Verdot vines have “bunches of grapes speckled with green and un-ripened berries” (Wine-Searcher). Petit Verdot generally possesses high levels of anthocyanins in the berry’s thick skin. When in contact during processing this provides a dense, inky, violet-black appearance. This also gives the wine high tannin levels or a real bite in the mouth. On the palate the wine is dry and full bodied, with black fruits and has a medium acidity. Petit Verdot has typically been a blending grape in Bordeaux and other regions imparting the color, tannin and floral aroma of violets. It is a strong, call it a longshoreman type of wine. Historically less than 10% goes into a blend so as not to overpower the other components of the wine. In recent years, more and more wineries are making a true Petit Verdot Varietal (75% +), but this is not for the novice wine drinker. Petit Verdot has had its best success growing in warm dry climates.
Who is Yorkville Cellars?
They are a family owned winery located in the rolling hills of southern Mendocino County around 800 to 1,000 feet elevation. They are proud of their relationship with the land having been certified by the California Certified Organic Framers in 1986 (long before fashionable!). So over three decades, no synthetic pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers have been introduced. Truly an Organic Wine. Additionally, they maintain California Certified Sustainable Vineyard status. Their mission is to produce the six red (adding in the lost varietal of Carmenere) Noble grapes of Bordeaux as stand-alone wines as well as producing a Bordeaux blend from their estate 16 acres. All wine is hand harvested and hand sorted for quality fruit to make into each bottle. They also make a Sauvignon Blanc and white blend of Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon.
Who are owners and winemaker? Deborah and Edward Wallo are the Founders and Winegrowers of Yorkville Cellars. Deborah was raised in England and knew European wines. Edward, spent a lot of time in Europe working as an international Marketing manager. There they both appreciated the wines of Europe, especially the Bordeaux’s out of France. They lived in France, Germany and northern Italy (near Lake Como) where they were able to explore many vineyards and wineries.
In the mid 1980’s, they purchased the land and their intent was to be stewards of the land as vineyard managers. They sought to produce the varietals that played in the classic Bordeaux blend. Originally wanting to sell their grapes as vineyard growers, it soon became apparent they should cultivate, bottle and present their own brand to the wine world. Besides the experience in Europe, Edward continued his education doing course work at both UC Davis and Sonoma State University. Today their production quantities range from 6,000 to 8,000 cases a year with production totaling 14 wines. Typically only 300-400 cases per varietal or type of wine is produced. All their wines are meticulously hand produced. Edward and Deborah do the vineyard management, choose dates to pick, and make the wine. They have been doing this for 26 years.
2016 Yorkville Cellars Petit Verdot
Tasting the 2016 Petit Verdot was amazing! On the eyes, an extremely dark almost black/purple coloration with a heavy viscosity. On the nose, black fruits of plum, blackberry and blueberry were the first hints that something special was about to happen. Coupled with floral notes, the palate was in anxious anticipation of the first sip. On the palate, violet, lavender and other florals roamed joyfully in the mouth. This wine offered up black cherry, vanilla, mocha, and provided a hint of smoke and anise. The finish had a soft minerality/earthiness and extremely long finish with tremendous structure. They used 86% Petit Verdot and added a rounder Merlot of 14% to make a smooth wine. The red wines are aged 20 months in French oak barrels (15% new). In 2016 they won a Double Gold at the Pac Rim International Wine Competition for their Petit Verdot.
The Food Pairing
A fantastically prepared Andouille Cajun Rice Skillet dish was chosen to pair with the wine. This was a “warm temperature flavor” dish with spiciness and far reaching textual appeal in the mouth. The recipe called for Andouille Cajun sausage, yellow onion, red & yellow bell peppers, minced garlic, Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, kosher salt, tomato paste, fresh sliced Roma tomatoes and brown rice. Paired with the Yorkville Cellars Petit Verdot was a match made in heaven.
This wine immediately made my Best Wines of Year (published every December) with just one sip! The great news is the winery sells it for only $34. It will reside prominently in the cellar going forward as an excellent wine and a great value.