Every now and then a wine comes along that defies expectation and reminds me why I love wine so much. I had such an experience this past weekend and it was delightful.
Several years ago I bought a bottle of ’04 Petite Verdot from Rutherford Hill winery in Napa. We got a few wines that day and were really pleased with everything that we tasted. From what I have seen, Petite Verdot is rarely bottled on its own. It is typically part of Bordeaux style Cabernet or Merlot blends. I had thought until last weekend that Petite Verdot was not a strong enough grape to stand on its own. I was so wrong to think that.
When I bought the wine in 2008, the tasting room guy told me that it would go really nicely with lamb. I don’t make lamb very often so the wine has sat in the cellar aging away until tonight. I really did not know what to expect because while I tasted the wine at the winery, and obviously liked it since I bought a bottle, it was years ago and I did not remember anything about it.
It had the characteristics of a perfect wine. Everything was in balance. A little bit earthy. A little bit fruity. Soft, silky tannins. Not too heavy, not too light. Some flavors of dark fruit. It complemented the lamb perfectly. And this wine started trouble. Once the bottle got low, my husband and I turned into crazy people fighting over the last glass. We only had the one bottle and it had been aged an additional three years after purchase. Once the bottle was gone, it was gone.
The lessons I learned from this wine:
1. Don’t rag on California wines because so many of them truly are amazing (see my previous post where I did such a thing). Including this $24 Petite Verdot that I had not considered one of the great wines in our collection.
2. Look outside the Cabernet box. Sometimes I associate great California wines with Cabernet and while that is true, those wines can be really expensive. I love that this obscure varietal at a fairly modest price for a small production Napa wine was such an amazing wine.
But now I am sad. We only had the one bottle. And it is gone now. But thankfully, there are a million great wines out there waiting to be savored.