Beaulieu Vineyards: ‘We were afraid of Petit Verdot’

Jeffrey Stambor, the director of winemaking at Napa’s Beaulieu Vineyard, has said that Petit Verdot is a “monster” grape which needs extensive oak contact to becomes soft enough for blending.

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Some of Beaulieu’s range included in the 90+ Club launch in Hong Kong

Speaking to dbHK at the launch of Treasury Wine Estates’ 90+ Club in Hong Kong, Jeffrey Stambor said that when winemakers in Napa first started using Petit Verdot, they struggled with its under ripeness and astringency,

“We were afraid of Petit Verdot historically,” he said. “It was grippy, hard and really unappealing and by itself it’s a complete monster grape.

“But treated in the right way with extensive oak contact for two or so years and it really comes alive, full of ripe fruit and floral notes which make up the backbone of our wines.”

Stambor uses full barrel fermentation for the must where barrels are placed under the destemmer, the heads replaced and the barrels are spun on Oxo racks, which he said was ideal for softening Petit Verdot.

“It adds a lot more complexity and integration and Petit Verdot fermented that way is beautiful and wonderfully ripe.”

Stambor’s Bordeaux blend, Tapestry and its flagship, Georges de Latour Private Reserve have had gradually more Petit Verdot added – to around 7%, with Stambor citing the last few hot vintages as also being instrumental due to Petit Verdot’s later ripening compared to Cabernet Sauvignon.

“We’ve had a few drought vintages but enough spring rain to make it work. Everything has been ripening earlier and earlier. For the last four vintages we picked Cabernet Sauvignon in the second week of September and because of the hot conditions, Petit Verdot has taken on these lovely floral notes which will age perfectly.”

 

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