Petit Verdot is one of Bordeaux's classic dark skinned grape varieties. It ripens very late, even later than Cabernet Sauvignon, providing dense colouring, forceful thick skinned tannins, and relatively high acidity, to the wines of the region. Petit Verdot performs particularly well in warmer years, on the well-drained gravel alluvials of the Left Bank. Its obdurate nature means that it is intrinsically a 'blender', mitigating lack of colour, structure and power in a wine, depending on the vintage. Restricted to vintages with abundant sunshine, its success in cool to moderate climates, is limited. Global Warming, perhaps, bodes well for its future.
Subsequently new plantings in Bordeaux, as with most other regions, are exponentially well behind those of the more aristocratic Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 'smooth' and malleable Merlot. Yet Petit Verdot has discovered a quirky new role. In warm to hot wine regions, from Spain to Australia, Petit Verdot's structural carapace provides much needed freshness, focus and balance in what are often loose-knit wines of intense fruit sweetness. Marquis de Riscal's straight varietal expression is echoed by others, including that of Pirramimma, in McLaren Vale.