A Brief Hello and a Petit Verdot 12/01/10
Hey there! I’m new in town, and I’ve been compelled by certain overbearing fascist regulations to inform you that I am, in fact, a registered vinophile. That means I like wine – and I do! But not in a sexual way; that’s just a creepy metaphor.
I’m far from an expert when it comes to wine tasting, but I know just enough to make myself sound way more informed than I actually am. My friends and family keep telling me I should start a wine blog, so this should at least shut them the hell up for a while, whether or not anyone else ever reads it. So…all right!
Most of the wines I talk about will be under $20 because I’m kind of poor, but I’m making a real effort to try interesting varietals, or else wines that aren’t from California (no offense – the stores are just saturated. Also, hippies). Again, I’m not an expert, but if you’d like to join this humble, pretentious n00b on a verifiably invigorating vinic adventure, read on!
Today I’m going to be discussing the 2005 River Ranch Petit Verdot from Murphy-Goode Winery in Sonoma, California, listed at $28 on the winery’s website, but purchased by yours truly for a cool $14 at a PA state store (thanks, Chairman!)
As everybody who’s anybody knows, Petit Verdot is one of the five legendary red Bordeaux grape varietals (along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec), and probably the most overlooked of the bunch. I’m guilty of this neglect personally, not having tried the grape without its friends until almost a hundred wines into my tasting notes. Petit Ver-d’oh! Feel free to use that one.
The wine poured a dark, almost opaque purple, immediately living up to its googled reputation as “brooding.” I was greeted by a distinctive bouquet of pencil shavings, a first for me, but supposedly characteristic of a Petit Verdot that needs more age. This one totally didn’t, though, and soon opened up to black cherries, earth, chocolate and perhaps something floral (research says violet, but I couldn’t tell you for certain, being male and all).
On the palate the wine was full-bodied and very dry, but lively, tasting of cherries, leather and spice. The attack was tart, evolving into tannins for a dry finish. The 14.5% alcohol never really reared its head (at least, not on the palate), which speaks to the wine’s exceptional balance. By way of comparison, the varietal reminds me of a darker, heavier Nebbiolo, Italy’s most noble red. It may help to think of it as Nebbiolo’s depressed goth cousin.
In short, I see no justifiable reason why this grape should continue to go undrunk, unless Murphy-Goode just happens to produce an uncommonly good example. I’ve long lamented the lack of Cabernet Franc at my local liquor stores, but the situation in the Keystone State is much worse for poor Petit Verdot. No wonder it’s so sad.
Well I award the 2005 River Ranch Petit Verdot thumbs up out of 10, so put down the Baudelaire, you brooding French grape you!