There is a lot to be said about Cuda Ridge Wines in Livermore, California. A key point is that they produce Bordeaux style wines. The Cuda Ridge winery and Tasting Room is located at 2400 Arroyo Road in Livermore, California. Cuda Ridge Wines current production is approximately 2100 cases. Cuda Ridge Wines produces the following Bordeaux varietals: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and most recently their addition of Carménère. Always experimenting, Larry Dino owner & winemaker will produce non-Bordeaux style wines which are designated under their Black label, these wines include Sangiovese, New-World style Cabernet Sauvignon and others. Each of varietals produced are small lots ranging from 100 – 450 cases. Cuda Ridge does extensive blending of the varietals and strives for lower alcohol wines with intense complexity and character, traditional of the Bordeaux style wines.
Cuda Ridge Wines – 2020 Petit Verdot
First, what is Petit Verdot? The literal translation is “little green one”. This is because it is a late ripening grape from the Bordeaux region in France. It is a commonly used grape in blending, usually in small amounts to add color, tannin, structure and herbaceous notes of violet and sage. Today it is common to see 2% to no more than 10% in many Cabernet Sauvignon’s and other wines. The number of producers that make a 100% Petit Verdot are fairly limited as this is a hearty, earthy and brawny wine. It is a concentrate grape with abundant color and structure. Petit Verdot typically has extremely strong tannins, higher acids, extremely dry and black fruits. Think of Petit Verdot at a party as the guy with the loud voice and dancing wildly.
Larry Dino provided me an advanced bottle of his 2020 Petit Verdot that will be available on November 5th to his wine club members. It is 100% Petit Verdot. On the eyes this is not your see through, translucent sipping wine. It is as dark as a cavern and could be used in redacting any proprietary military or legal document!! It possesses a medium to medium heavy viscosity when swirling in the glass. On the nose, the first scent awakens one that something special is about to happen. Black fruits along with lilac and violets slap you upside the head with a bouquet of wonder and enticing charm. Present also are aromas of vanilla, spice and cedar. Once on the palate, plum, blackberry and blueberry dance wildly in your mouth. The fruit is counterbalanced by dried herbs, mostly violets. The finish is dry and full bodied with strong tannins. It was aged 18 months in 100% American oak barrels with 48% new and 52% once used. The wine goes for $41/bottle. Only 102 cases were produced in 2020 due to California fires and smoke. Normal production is closer to 350-400 cases. Also this wine comes in at 13.6% alcohol.
Food and Wine Pairing
Due to the firm tannins and concentrated fruits, food and Petit Verdot can be tricky. Foods with lots of protein and fat are generally recommended. Rich cuts of red meat (steak, lamb) and wild game birds are more typical friendly pairings.
This evenings food pairing was a marinated ribeye steak in Japanese barbecue sauce (Bachan’s) and seared at 550 degrees. The sauce is their “hot and spicy” label and when barbecued, formed a tasty glaze on the steaks. Accompanied with a Yukon Gold potato, baby asparagus and a fresh garden salad. The best pairing was the baby asparagus with the Petit Verdot drawing out unique herbaceous flavors. Even the ribeye was challenged to hold up to the Petit Verdot but did so heroically. Tonight it worked very well with the meal. This is definitely not a standalone sipping wine for the occasional Chardonnay or Pinot Noir wine drinker!
If hearty and bold wines are in your wheelhouse, this is surely a treasured wine!