Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Why Not More Petit Verdot?
Sette Ponti Makes the Point

Once again I was confronted with the jesus grape of warm climates. Tired of jube jube fruit bombs, those heavy and chewy new world cabs that scream for just a touch more acidity? Well open your arms and embrace the Petit Verdot. While only a minor player in Bordeaux (where it only fully ripens in the best of years), I have come across it in California, Spain and now Italy, and more than a few warm weather vintners have remarked to me how difficult it is to over-ripen. Call it the acidifier, the structurizer, the fresherizer, call it what you will, but yesterday, it was the vintage savior (saver). To read more on this check the review for the Poggio Al Lupo

Lunch was with Francesco Cirelli, estate manager of Tuscany based Tenuta Sette Ponti. Alongside the Arezzo based Sette Ponti, they also own vineyards in Sicile (Feudo Maccari) and straddling the Toscane coast( Poggio al Lupo). I was impressed with the whole catalogue, especially with the judicious choice of grapes for the blending. Many of these wines will be available to us Quebecers in the coming months, so watch out for them.

Thanks Pierre for yet another class tasting.

Morellino di Scansano D.o.c., 2004, Poggio Al Lupo ($29..importation)
A blend of 75% Sangiovese and 25% Alicante and aged in stainless, this wine set the tone. Perfect ripeness, hints of violets, tobacco leaf and a ton of dark fruits, all wrapped around a remarkably soft tannic structure, this is a well crafted wine. I loved it’s ‘un-oakiness.’

Toscana I.g.t., Crognolo 2002, Sette Ponti ($40...saq)
A 90-10 Sangiovese-Merlot mix, this is the first decent Toscane 2002 that I have tasted. As they did not make their top wine Oreno in 02, all the best grapes went into the Crognolo. While it still falls slightly into the void, it has a superb texture. With notes of licorice, bitter chocolate and red fruits, this soft and silky wine is ready for a Sunday roast beef.

Toscana I.g.t., Crognolo 2003, Sette Ponti ($40...saq)
This time 90-10 Sangiovese-Cabernet, this is an explosive beast of a wine. I found it remarkably well balanced for an ’03, not too over ripe and with just an impression of residual sugar. I fear it might descend into the cooked fruit thing if kept too long so I would suggest a short stint in the cellar and then bring on the pepper steak.

Sicilia I.g.t., Saia 2003, Feudo Maccari ($40..importation)
100% Nero D’avola, this is another big, juicy wine. Slightly monolithic as is often the case with unblended Nero, it showed above all sweet red peppercorns with firm, and slightly rustic tannins. I would love to see it in a couple of years or perhaps blended with a little Merlot.

Toscana I.g.t., Poggio Al Lupo 2003 ($78.. importation)
73% Cab, 20% Alicante with 7% Petit Verdot. The best European 2003 that I have tasted to date. It made me thing of a Roc de Cambes (Bordeaux) with it’s combination of elegance and rusticity. Think of biting into a perfectly ripe bunch of grapes and you get an idea as to how fresh this wine tasted. Soft and juicy tannins, it went on and on. And why was this 03 so damned good…? Mr. Cirelli acknowledged the Petit Verdot.

Toscane I.g.t, Oreno 2003, Sette Ponti ($75…saq)
50-50 Sangiovese cabernet, I found it over ripe and a bit too ‘meaty.’ Here is another victim of the heat of 2003. One got the sense of the care that was taken in putting the wine together but for me, but it lacked the acidity and freshness of the Lupo. I would love to try a 2001 to get a sense of what it is like coming from a more typical vintage.


Iris said...

I was very pleased to read your commentary about Petit Verdot. I blend it with the two Cabernets and Malbec the good years. But it really needs a long time to ripen and I admire the fruity acidity it keeps till the end. The grapes are tiny, tiny - which may be another reason why so few estates in the less sunny Bordeaux region kept it after the phyloxera invasion.

I would like to taste a pure Petit Verdot one day.

Jameson said...

Petit Verdot.

Most Washington State wines are massively oaked, extended hangtime, boozy monsters with no mid-palate or finish. BUT...a couple winemakers here are doing a good job and believe a lot in the use of Petit Verdot.

Check out the wines from Cadence. The winemaker, Ben, is very into using Petit Verdot to add some much-needed acidity to grapes grown in scorching Eastern Washington (it's a desert).

I second the comment from Iris; is there a 100% Petit Verdot out there? I think I drank a Bordeaux made by Mouton-R that is 100% Petit Verdot.

caveman said...

i didn't think washington state was that hot...

d said...

OS winery (formerly Owen Sullivan) bottles two Petit Verdots, each from single vineyard sites. They are interesting and worth trying, but a bit over-ripe although not over oaked. The problem with a straight Petit Verdot from Washington is that there isn't a whole lot planted and we all want to get some... that means the ones we do see are priced like the rest of Washington's big reds. Too much $.