Is Petit Verdot the Next Malbec?

This robust varietal is finding its place in the sun.


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Lesser-known Bordeaux-born varieties often go abroad to make their name—Malbec in Argentina is a prime example. Has the time come for Petit Verdot?

Craggy Range is planting more in New Zealand, while in California it’s a major component of Obsidian Ridge’s forthcoming superpremium blend, Half Mile. Wines like Carlos Pulenta’s varietal bottling have inspired a fan club in Argentina, the Cofradía del Petit Verdot. And plantings are up roughly 56% in California since 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Normally used to raise the acidity in other wines, “It’s high acidity and lack of aromatic character is a challenge,” says Delia Viader, winemaker at Napa Valley’s Viader. Nonetheless, good sun exposure has allowed Viader to make a varietal Petit Verdot from its Howell Mountain property since 1998.

Since it stays fresh even when basking in sun and heat, some experts have suggested that global warming may earn Petit Verdot even more space in the world’s vineyards and store shelves. No region has embraced it as a signature grape yet (though Colorado and Virginia are contenders), but Petit Verdot is certainly no longer afraid to show its face.

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