Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wines I'm Drinking: 2007 Wellington Vineyards Sonoma Valley Petit Verdot

I opened a bottle of the 2007 Wellington Vineyards Petit Verdot a few nights ago, not expecting too much from it. That is not intended as a reflection on the producer. On the contrary, Wellington is one of my favorite Sonoma County wineries. I say it simply because Petit Verdot  has always seemed to me a grape best used in blends. Most single-variety bottlings I've tasted have been fairly uninteresting. The grape was traditionally planted in Bordeaux for qualities similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but it appears to have fallen out of favor there because it tends to ripen very late--even later than Cabernet. According to Jancis Robinson, Petit Verdot is at its best only when it's able to fully ripen, and that frequently doesn't happen in Bordeaux. It would seem then to have greater promise in California, and it has increasingly been planted here in the past 20 years or so. If this wine from Wellington is any indication, it deserves more attention than I've been willing to give it in the past.

The wine was an inky, deep, purple-red. Besides red fruit, it had interesting hints of citrus and cinnamon on the nose and even something a little suggestive of curry, along with floral undertones. The nose was complex and it continued to evolve as my evening with the wine progressed. Later, the wine suggested gingerbread. There was something spicy about the flavors as well. The wine was nicely balanced between a solid core of subtle fruit; bright, fine-grained tannins; and good acidity. The tannins suggest this wine will benefit from another two or three years in bottle--although it's certainly drinking well now. With a little air and time in the glass, the wine softened to reveal some chocolatey flavors and it developed a silky, almost creamy mouthfeel. Delicious wine. Highly recommended. Purchased directly from the winery.

I tasted an excellent 2006 Merlot from Wellington Vineyards as well not long ago. Otherwise, I recommend this winery for its white wines made from Rhône grapes such as Rousanne and Marsanne, for its single-vineyard Cabernet wines, and for its Victory bottling--a Bordeaux-style blend made only in superior years. Wellington has also made some truly excellent Grenache. The tasting room is one of the friendliest in the Sonoma Valley, and the wines are very reasonably priced--which is a welcome change from the usual pattern in California--expensive wines that don't deliver. I also like the fact that Wellington Vineyards is a completely solar-powered winery.

[Update: I was in the winery today (April 20, 2010). Jannis behind the counter reminded me that this was a very small single-variety bottling of extra grapes leftover from a batch that went into the Victory--which is to say, there is no more of this wine....]

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