This is the first of a new series of posts about Virginia wine by Michelle, a new addition to the Mas to Millers team and a self-professed oenophiliac. While the posts in this series may make reference to non-Virginia wines, we should emphasize that the series itself isn’t meant to see how Virginia wines stack up against wines from elsewhere. Much like the restaurant reviews, the question we’re asking is simply, “Who is doing what in the region and do we like what they’re doing or not?”
It wasn’t my first Virginia love, but it’s my most luxurious. It’s no secret that our little corner of American viticulture – namely the Monticello AVA – is gaining recognition of late, with area wineries producing some notable, if not always consistent, wines. The most famous Old Dominion duo may indeed be Viognier (white) and Cabernet Franc (red), but it’s the unpretentious Petit Verdot that has stolen my wine loving heart and made me a devoted drinker of Virginia reds.
A traditionally lesser-known Bordeaux varietal, Petit Verdot is often used as a blending grape, to add body and depth to other reds. Such was the intention at Veritas Vineyard and Winery, where only an acre of Petit Verdot was originally planted. The varietal grew particularly and surprisingly well here, so much so that winemakers tried bottling it as a single varietal. Fast forward a few years, and the wine has become one of Veritas’ most award-winning.
The 2009 Petit Verdot is Veritas’ most recent release, but I’d miraculously managed to hold on to a bottle I’d bought during one of my early visits to the winery, vintage 2005, and uncorked it last night. If a wine produced during a wet season is this good (’05 was unusually rainy in these parts), then subsequent vintages hold high promise. The ’05 Petit Verdot is big for a Virginia red. It is dark, smoky, and rich – and this just in the nose. What I love best is its smoothness – how, upon first sip, it doesn’t curdle my saliva and curl my tongue. For me, the wine drinks like velvet. Soft without a trace of bitterness. Younger iterations tend to be more fruit forward; though dry, the young wine hints at dark cherry or plum. I get that in the 2009. But, if allowed to mature for a few years, the flavors become more integrated and robust, richly organic without reminding me of dirt. Exactly what you’d expect from a quality red. Top that with a long finish to remind me of what I’d just tasted: Monticello wine ecstasy.
Petit Verdot isn’t your mama’s porch-sipping red. You don’t add ice cubes or make sangria with it. In fact, unless you’re naturally wired for hearty reds, you might not opt to drink it solo; this wine holds up equally well whether paired with red meat or dark chocolate, depending on your fancy. But, if it’s possible for a local red to be simultaneously bold and subtle, this one hits the mark.
Note: While the winery itself is sold out of Petit Verdot, you can track down Veritas wines sold locally through the Veritas wine locator or look forward to the next release, expected in May.