When the word ‘petite’ or ‘petit’ is part of a grape variety name, it indicates the size of the berries. Size matters as the smaller the grape, the less juice it will yield. In addition, the grape will have more surface area of skin relative to the amount of juice. Red wine made from smaller berried grapes can be more pigmented and more tannic as there is less juice to dilute these characteristics.
There are several varieties of grape with petite or petit in their name. Two popular grapes, especially in Virginia winemaking, are Petit Verdot and Petit Manseng both of which originated in France. Petit Verdot hails from Bordeaux and Petit Manseng from Southwestern France. Petit Meslier is a grape allowed in Champagne though rarely is included in the wines. Other petit/petites of note include Petite Sirah grown in France and California, Petit Rouge grown in Italy, Petit Arvine grown in both Switzerland and Italy and Petit Corbu grown in Southwestern France.
This Saturday, February 29th, 2020, City Vino will feature a Petite, Petit and a Petite-Petit. For the Petite, we will be pouring a wine made from Petite Sirah and for the Petit there will be a Petit Verdot. For the Petite Petit, we will feature a blend of the Petite Sirah and Petit Verdot.
The first wine is made from the grape Petite Sirah. Another name for Petite Sirah is Durif after the gentleman that discovered the natural occurring crossing (cross pollination between two vines) of what we now know to be Syrah and a rare grape Peloursin. The crossing was discovered in the 1880s, the grape came to the US within a few years and in 1992 the parentage was confirmed so the name was justified all those years.
Wines made from Petite Sirah often have aromas and flavors of blackberries, blueberries, dark chocolate, black pepper, licorice and dried herbs. The Petite Sirah, we are pouring this Saturday comes from Paso Robles California and is the Brady Petite Sirah Paso 2016. This is a full-bodied wine, with bright acidity and smooth yet present tannins. This wine pairs well with richer and fattier foods that can balance the tannins so consider fatty steaks, roasted pork, burgers, and foods with rich flavorful sauces and aged or sharp cheeses.
Petit Verdot, as stated above, is well known in Virginia. Its originated in the Bordeaux region of France where it is a small blending partner along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc providing deep color and tannins. Petit Verdot translates to “little green” in homage to the fact that the grapes themselves are small and that the vine ripens late and the grapes stay green longer than other varieties. Young Petit Verdot tends to have aromas of pencils shavings and notes of violet and leather as it matures.
Our featured wine on Saturday from this grape is Pearmund Cellars Petit Verdot 2016 from here in Virginia. This wine is 100% Petit Verdot with aromas of black raspberries along with cherries a touch of vanilla. There are flavors of dark black fruit with notes of smoke, pepper, vanilla and nutmeg that linger in a long finish. Pair this wine with grilled or roasted meats or earthy dishes with mushrooms as the lead or a supporting player.
A Petite Petit, as you may have guessed, is a wine that blends Petite Sirah with Petit Verdot. For this combination, we present the VDR, Very Dark Red Estate Grown Hames Valley 2015 which is a blend of 56% Petit Verdot partnered with 44% Petite Sirah. The wine has aromas and flavors of black currant and black raspberries and beautiful notes of crushed violet. While there are plenty of tannins, they are well integrated in the wine leading to a velvet and luscious feeling in your mouth. Pairing partners for this wine include grilled meats, ribeye, rich stews, game, ribs and smoked cheese.