DRINK Fruit shines with Pe­tit Ver­dots

The Georgia Straight - - Drink - By

IKur­tis Kolt

got my hands on a cou­ple Bri­tish Columbian wines re­cently, two bot­tles that weren’t ex­actly com­mon pours.

We of­ten get the op­por­tu­nity to com­pare and con­trast lo­cal Pinot Noirs, Mer­lots, Ries­lings, and so on, but the two wines in front of me were sin­gle-va­ri­etal Pe­tit Ver­dots—def­i­nitely out­liers when it comes to what we’re used to on the home front.

When it comes right down to it, it’s rare to see sin­gle-va­ri­etal Pe­tit Ver­dot from any­where. For many years in the Van­cou­ver mar­ket, Pir­ramimma’s Pe­tit Ver­dot out of Mclaren Vale, Aus­tralia, has had a cult fol­low­ing. Many have en­joyed its inky in­ten­sity, blue­berry com­pote, dashes of bar­be­cue sauce, and spoon­fuls of mo­lasses.

Although I’ve had the odd lo­cal ex­am­ple of the grape (Sand­hill has fea­tured it as part of their Small Lots pro­gram for many years), it is only re­cently that I’ve seen other winer­ies take the leap to see what they can do with it.

Most of us know Pe­tit Ver­dot as a sup­port­ing player in red Bordeaux blends. Red wines from the iconic French re­gion are gen­er­ally com­posed of a mix of Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon, Mer­lot, and Caber­net Franc, but the sec­ondary grapes that round things out are Mal­bec and then Pe­tit Ver­dot.

In the vine­yard, the grape buds pretty early, but it’s late to ripen. Its hall­mark is deep, dark berry fruit, of­ten car­ry­ing a pinch of spice, and it car­ries a good bal­ance of al­co­hol, tan­nin, and acid.

The rea­son it’s not a mar­quee name is likely that propen­sity for ripen­ing late, mak­ing it not an ideal va­ri­ety for a good hand­ful of global re­gions. As well, although its rich­ness and in­ten­sity make for a good blend­ing grape,

Two ex­am­ples of B.c.-made Pe­tit Ver­dots

on its own it may be a lit­tle much for the com­mon palate.

When it comes to the geek fac­tor, sure—there’s a lot to play with since it’s usu­ally thought of as a blend­ing grape, rarely bask­ing in its own spot­light.

The op­por­tu­nity to try two of them from the same part of the world—from dif­fer­ent pro­duc­ers, side by side—rarely comes up, but here’s our chance to play.

First up, we have Moon Curser Pe­tit Ver­dot 2016 ($30.99, www.moon­curser. com/). Pro­pri­etors Chris and Beata Tol­ley are no strangers to hom­ing in on ob­scure va­ri­eties, as glances to­ward their Arneis, Tem­pranillo, Dol­cetto, and Tan­nat at­test. The fruit for this wine comes from Osoy­oos, in the deep south of the Okana­gan Val­ley, where the sandy loam and gran­ite soils are dot­ted with wild sage­brush and cacti, cul­mi­nat­ing in a rugged set­ting for a con­cen­trated, rich, win­tery wine.

Ag­ing in French oak, 25 per­cent of it new, frames mul­ber­ries, blue­ber­ries, and deep, bal­samic flavours, all rich and jammy but teth­ered to tan­nins that give great tex­ture and an acid com­po­nent, bring­ing a live­li­ness to the wine. It’s big, and you can feel the pur­ple­ness of it seep­ing into your teeth at the first sip, yet it still glides across the palate, not sink­ing in too deep.

Next, over the moun­tain pass is Corcelettes Es­tate Win­ery Pe­tit Ver­dot 2016 ($52.09, www.corceletteswine.ca/), a Sim­ilka­meen Val­ley gem that’s, wait… 52 bucks?

The price on this struck me as be­ing a lit­tle am­bi­tious un­til I dug a lit­tle deeper, un­cov­er­ing its ex­clu­sive na­ture. Com­ing from just un­der a half acre of plant­ings, this Pe­tit Ver­dot grown in stemwinder soils is the epit­ome of a lim­ited re­lease: only three small bar­rels were made, which trans­lates to just 70 cases of un­fil­tered, hand­crafted de­li­cious­ness.

There’s an el­e­gance here, with vi­o­lets and dusty co­coa on the nose, then truf­fles, stewed rasp­ber­ries, cher­ries, and cur­rants on the palate. Although the tan­nins are wellplaced, the wine’s struc­ture is that of a bot­tle maybe a cou­ple years older, a lit­tle more ready to drink. Per­haps it’s the lime­stone-rich soils, but there’s a live­li­ness of struc­ture here, crushed rocks and bril­liant acid­ity ris­ing to the sur­face.

The fruit shines with both wines, in their dark, berry-driven ways. The com­par­i­son—which is rec­om­mended as part of these cozy wine­friendly, win­tery days—ends up be­ing more of a glance at the Okana­gan and Sim­ilka­meen val­leys through this Pe­tit Ver­dot lens.

Moon Curser’s take is a lit­tle more in that hot­ter cli­mate’s op­u­lent, fruit­for­ward style, whereas Corcelettes’s is a tad rus­tic in some com­po­nents, pro­vid­ing a lit­tle more nu­ance. Re­ally, it doesn’t come down to one ver­sus the other, be­cause which­ever one you might choose, they’re both win­ners. The real win is in nab­bing a bot­tle from both winer­ies, and en­joy­ing the ex­plo­ration of this unique va­ri­ety, from two winer­ies that han­dle it well.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.