UK Exclusive on Tuscan Petit Verdot
Petit Verdot is a grape variety few people pay much attention to. Its main claim to fame is its use in Bordeaux where many chateaux use it to add colour and a touch of spice. The quantities used are very small, usually under 10% and sometimes as little as 2%.
It is a wonder then why a producer in Bolgheri, on the Tuscan coast, decided to dedicate an entire vineyard to the grape and subsequently produce a varietal wine from it.
Many an Italian producer has embarked upon the now fashionable small production, single varietal wine with many achieving the level of exclusivity that allows them to command wild prices. Tenuta dell’Ornellaia created Masseto, the 100% Merlot wine from a small vineyard in Bolgheri back in the 1980’s; Tua Rita and Castello di Ama followed suit further inland with their single vineyard Merlot; and Isole e Olena and Fontodi went for 100% Sangiovese from the Chainti Classico region for their exclusive, single variety production.
The success these producers have found with their high end wines has certainly encouraged others to follow suit. However, Donna Olimpia are very much alone in their decision to focus on Petit Verdot as their stand-alone grape variety.
Located in the famed Super Tuscan enclave of Bolgheri, the Donna Olimpia estate has been producing a Bordeaux blend including Petit Verdot since the early 2000’s. But it wasn’t until the 2015 vintage that they produced and bottled the single varietal Orizzonte. The wine is definitely in its infancy but it has been made by an expert hand who clearly recognises the potential this grape variety offers in this particular region.
The deep colour and spice the Bordeaux producers like about Petit Verdot is still present but the depth of flavour and complexity on offer is striking and unusual. So far three vintages have been released all made in very limited quantities (no more than 2000 bottles per year): 2015, 2016 and 2017 (due in the summer), all of which vary quite distictly from the other. 2015 is full of power and weight; 2016 is lush and ripe with an elegant core; 2017 is much more delicate with a fresh, herbaceaous edge that complements the fruit well.
We have just 40 bottles available in each of the 2015 and 2016 vintages which are offered on a first come first served basis. The 2017 is due later this year which we will release via our newsletter.
Please email us if you are interested in larger formats of any of the three vintages: [email protected]
The first vintage of Orizzonte and the one that caught and held our attention. It has a firm, powerful grip but with a generous, silky feel on the palate that helps it remain relaxed. Classic dark berry fruit, black pepper, and a lovely deep earthy finish.
The 2016 is a wine that has managed to tread the very fine line between power and finesse – there is bright, punchy fruit interspersed with mineral and herbaceous notes with hints of dark spice and leather waiting to come through. Thoroughly enjoyable now it will no doubt be excellent in another decade.
When we dropped a bottle of this vintage round to our retired MW neighbour, he responded by dropping a note through our door, which simply said ‘Buy The Lot…’.