All About Petit Verdot

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Pronunciation – Peh-Tee Vur-Doe

Petit Verdot is a red wine varietal from the southwest of France, originating from the region of Bordeaux. On the branch, it is small and thick-skinned and prefers to grow in warmer climates. Its name, which means something like “little green”, refers to the fact that it ripens late in the season, and in France, it rarely reaches full ripeness. 

For that reason, it rarely appeared as a single-varietal wine until it spread to other countries. It was originally used as a blending grape in red Bordeaux blends from Medoc, to deepen the color and add some structure with its high tannin content. Sometimes, Bordeaux blends feature as little as 1-2% of Petit Verdot. 

However, it has become more successful outside of France in the United States, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Peru, among others. In hotter regions, the grape has shown its full potential and is sometimes used to make single-varietal wines. 

Petit Verdot Tasting Notes

Petit Verdot is a dry, full-bodied wine, usually ranging between 13.5% and 15% alcohol. It is extremely high in tannins and contains a medium level of acidity. 

It tastes and smells primarily of black and blue fruits, with interesting notes of purple flowers, herbs, and minerality. Think of plum, blackberry and blueberry, along with violet, lilac, lavender and dried sage. It is often aged in oak, adding softer elements of baking spices, coffee and chocolate. Sometimes, it can also feature meaty and smoky flavors. 

Petit Verdot Styles

In hot climates, such as Spain and Southern Australia, Petit Verdot has proven that it can be used as a single-varietal wine. It will often show flavors of ripe, jammy black fruits, liquorice, and sweet violet.

In relatively cooler climates, like its home region in the southwest of France, Petit Verdot can taste a bit raw. It will contain flavors of dried herbs and tart black and blue fruits. 

Blends Made From Petit Verdot

It is a classic Bordeaux grape, so it is often used to add some backbone to Bordeaux red blends. It is often used in such small quantities that it barely makes an impact on the flavor, instead adding color and structure. 

Petit Verdot is very much an underrated grape that is still in development, at least in New World regions. In France, it has found its place in Bordeaux red blends, but in regions such as South America and Australia, interesting new blends are always being experimented with. 

When To Drink Petit Verdot

You will often end up drinking Petit Verdot in small quantities in a Bordeaux blend, which are really great wines for any occasion. On its own, Petit Verdot is best enjoyed along with a heavy, savory dinner. It will need to be decanted for at least an hour, perhaps even two hours, before serving. Drink it at slightly below room temperature: 63 ºF (17 ºC). 

It is best paired with dishes that have intense flavor, so think of red meats, stews, and cured, flavorful cheeses. If you are vegetarian or vegan, pair Petit Verdot with rich mushrooms or black beans. 

Best Years To Drink Petit Verdot

As a highly tannic and fairly acidic wine, Petit Verdot has some good cellaring potential. In fact, it is added to Bordeaux red blends for exactly that reason. It can age in the bottle for at least 5 years and depending on quality, it will still be good after 15-20 years. 

With a few years of aging, Petit Verdot’s tannins will soften and it will develop some tertiary smoky elements, with more pronounced notes of cloves and liquorice.

Petit Verdot Nutrition Facts

A glass of single-varietal Petit Verdot will contain approximately: 

  • 125 calories
  • 3.8 grams of carbohydrates
  • 0.1 grams of protein

Fun Facts About Petit Verdot

Petit Verdot predates Cabernet Sauvignon, and it’s likely that it was first cultivated by the ancient Romans. 

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Carménère, Petit Verdot is one of the grapes officially permitted to be in a Bordeaux red blend. 

It is known by many names: Carmelin, Petit Verdot Noir, Bouton, Heran, and more.


Petit Verdot Grapes