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Petit Verdot

May 13, 2005

Today’s grape of choice is Petit Verdot. If you’re a fan of big brutish red wines, you’ll love this one. Originally from the Bordeaux region of France, Petit Verdot is one of the six approved varieties used in the region’s wine. Not often found as a solo performer, but the Australians have been exploring its potential.

My first experience with Petit Verdot came several years ago at Vancouver’s Bin 941 restaurant. I had a glass of the Piramimma Petit Verdot, which blew me over. Once I picked myself up off the floor, I realized I was in love.

The Piramimma Petit Verdot is a huge, muscular red wine with loads of flavour. In the nose, it has an almost floral scent, but you can tell that it is a beast. In the mouth, the tannins can overpower the flavour, but you’ll typically find lots of peppery and earthy notes as well. Your teeth will be black and your head will hurt, but if you like your wines big, there’s nothing better than this one. Try it with a big charred piece of moose, or something equally gamey and huge (no, I’m not kidding).

However, the Piramimma doesn’t come cheap, averaging around $28 at Winnipeg’s private wine stores. So when I came across a new (cheaper) Australian Petit Verdot, I grabbed it right away. It was the Deakin Estate Petit Verdot, which will set you back $16.99 plus taxes at Winnipeg’s private wine stores. I bought it at DeLuca’s.

Sadly, it wasn’t worth the effort. Instead of the big, bruising, head-cramping rush I expected, I got what tasted like an overly- tannic Merlot. Blah.

Maybe the wine wasn’t that bad, but it did give me nasty heartburn. It didn’t have the floral nose I expected from it, nor was there much in the glass beyond lots of tannins. So don’t bother with the Deakin Estate (although their sparkling Shiraz is excellent), but save your bucks and head right for the Piramimma.

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