You might be as surprised as I was, walking into my local wine store (Cost Less Wines and Liquors, of course) an finding Petit Verdot from Jumilla region in Spain! Let me explain the “surprise” element. Petit Verdot is very rarely used as a single grape to produce a wine. To be more precise, it is primarily is blending grape, used in Bordeaux wines to fortify the structure. It is typically added in the 10% or less quantities. I have to note that in the past 5-10 years, the grape became more popular for single grape bottling, especially in the New World, places like Australia, Chile and United States. Actually, Petit Verdot from Jamesport vineyard on Long Island I tried last year was amazing ( you can read the post here), but it was equally priced at $100 per bottle. But again, this is new world, and Spain is really not in the New World when it comes to wine (fine, may be it is, depending on the region – but this should be a subject for another post).
Then comes another part of the surprise – Petit Verdot is really not a typical grape for Jumilla region. Typically, wines from Jumilla are made out of grape called Monastrell. A lot of Monastrell wines ( inexpensive, needless to say) have a grapey taste to them and many of them don’t belong to the group of “my favorites”. Of course, there are wines like El Nido by Bodegas El Nido (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre, 97 rating by Robert Parker), which are totally different, but even those are rare for the area. Still, 100% Petit Verdot?
Please meet 2007 Nudo, Single Vineyard Petit Verdot from Jumilla DO, Spain. It is 100% Petit Verdot, aged for 6 month in French oak. Very balanced, beautiful fruit expression complemented by the notes of tobacco and hint of leather. It is not as concentrated as that Jamesport Petit Verdot was, but still very nice and pleasant wine to drink. At $12.99 – it is your great winning every day wine, hands down. Drinkability: 8-
Pleasant surprises are the best – as the wine world delivers better and better wines, be on a lookout for more great unusual wines from unusual places. Cheers!
Talk about being lucky. Last year in October we had a great trip to Long Island wine country, enjoying great weather, 2 hours long lunch with good food, wine and company. We started planning second annual Long Island Wine Country getaway about 3 month ago – we set the weekend, but who can know about the weather? This is why I’m talking about being lucky. Beautiful weather – just look at the picture of the grapes (accidental leftover after the harvest), against beautiful blue sky… Immaculate.
And there we went. The plan was simple – visit 3 wineries, taste the wines and have lunch with the wines we like. We started with the Lenz Winery, as it was far-most in our plan. Two things were interesting about Lenz Winery – they are well known for their Sparkling wines, and Lenz Merlot was compared with Petrus, one of the best regarded and equally expensive wines in the world (here is the link if you want to read more about Chateau Petrus, Bordeaux wine from Pomerol). The 2004 Sparkling Cuvee, made from 100% Pinot Noir, was nice, yeasty and balanced. Does it worth $30/bottle? Comparing to actual Champagne – may be, comparing with good California Sparkling wines like Chandon or Mumm, or Gruet from New Mexico – probably not. As for 2002 Old Vines Merlot, the one which should be compared with Petrus – I never had Petrus, so I’m not qualified to make any comparisons. I can only state that I didn’t like that Merlot at all.
The next stop was Jamesport winery. One of the driving forces behind our choice of wineries was a post in Wall Street Journal wine blog by Jay McInerney, where he was talking about tasting great Petit Verdot and other good wines at Jamesport and Paumanok wineries. Since we were planning to have lunch at Paumanok anyway, and Jamesport was around the corner, it was easy to decide that we want to taste the same wines.
I’m glad we stopped at the Jamesport. I chose Estate Series tasting flight out of many others available, and I can tell you that it was one of the very few experiences where I liked each and every wine in the flight. Reserve Chardonnay 2007, Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Riesling 2009, Pinot Noir “Sarah’s Hill” 2007, Estate Merlot Block “E” 2005, Syrah MTK 2007 and Melange de Trois 2005 – all were very good wines. One minor disappointment was the fact that Sauvignon Blanc 2009, highly regarded in the James McInerney’s article, was sold out. As we were explained , 2009 was a difficult vintage, and only 350 cases of 2009 Jamesport Sauvignon Blanc were produced, so it is not surprising that it was sold out. But then I have to mention an absolute highlight of the trip. We decided to try Petit Verdot Reserve 2007 – at $100/bottle, the tasting of this wine costs $10 for 3 oz pour, but still, looking for the experience we decided to go ahead and try it. This was one of the best $10 spent on the wine ever – luscious, multi-layered fruit, amazing balance of tannins and acidity and great mid-palate density! Considering my rating system, this was definitely a 9 – and I wish I would have a budget to put a few bottles in my cellar – this wine will evolve amazingly over the next 10-15 years.
The next stop was Paumanok winery, where we finally had our lunch.
We didn’t do tasting flight there, as everybody were already quite hungry, instead we got a bottle of Rose, and bottle of Riesling, and Paumanok Cabernet Franc 2007. Unfortunately, we couldn’t escape our dose of disappointment here as well, as Paumanok Petit Verdot 2007 ($60), lauded the most in Jay McInerney’s article, was sold out! At least the Cabernet Franc 2007, also highly mentioned in the article, was available ( good value at $24.50). The Cab Franc was very nice, with refreshing tartness, layers of restrained fruits and medium body – it was simple and pleasant to drink.
The grapes are already harvested on Long Island, so the new vintage will be on the way.
The weather is still warm so you can enjoy yourself in the Long Island Wine Country. This year, or the next year, and many years after – the wines are only getting better. Get your friends together and go out and play…
While traversing wine blogosphere, I came across a post about the book called “The Wild Vine” by Todd Kliman. This sparked my interest because of the two reasons – for one, it was talking about the grape called Norton, which was for a long time on my “to try” (of course partially due to the Wine Century Club and my Treble Journey). Another reason was that on the very first page the book was talking about Virginia, and Virginia already was set as my vacation destination for a coming week. To my full delight, Chrysalis Vineyards, located on Champe Ford Road in Middleburg, was the place where The Wild Vine book started, and it happened to be just around the corner of our intended destination in Virginia, which made visiting it very easy.
When visiting wineries in some “well developed” areas, like Napa Valley in California, you usually drive along a big road, simply making turns into short driveways. Coming to Chrysalis Vineyards was pleasantly different – mile and a half on the narrow unpaved road, surrounded by luscious greens. Somehow you get this real rustic feeling, which sets you in the right mood for tasting the wines ( and probably affects the way wines taste, but I guess this will be a subject for another post ).
There was a great line up of wines at the winery. There were simply no wines which I didn’t like (has something to do with the road and right mood, huh?), and all the wines were of a very good quality. The selection of grapes which are used at the winery also was very unusual – being accustomed to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah from the West coast, and then Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir from the North East, seeing Viognier, Petit Manseng, Albarino, Petit Verdot and Tannat (and of course Norton), was exciting.
The tasting included 12 wines, out of which 2009 Viognier (exceptionally perfumed and vibrant), 2005 Norton Estate Bottled (80% Norton with addition of Petit Verdot and other grapes, very balanced with silky tannins and long finish), 2005 Petit Verdot (80% Petit Verdot and 20% Tannat, very soft and round) and 2005 Norton Locksley Reserve (again, very balanced and soft) were really shining, I would rate them all at 7+ and 8 (Viognier definitely deserves an 8).
All in all, if you have a chance to visit Chrysalis Vineyards – don’t miss it, go discover the Real American Grape for yourself – and let me know your opinion!
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