Category Archives: Petit Verdot

Viña Pargua Anka 2012 Red Blend

Maipo Valley, Chile; 14.4% ABV
Produced and Bottled by Viña Pargua Ltda. Paine, Santiago, Chile
$5 at the San Diego – Downtown, CA, store on 4 November


Oh, how I wanted to like thee given the nice label, online MSRP, grape makeup and some decent prior vintage ratings from Wine Enthusiast. This wine reads very sweet to me and if you blindfolded me, I’d guess it were a California-designated Red Blend heavy on Central California fruit. According to the label, while it is 100% estate-grown fruit, shares that it’s 60% Cab, 16% Cab Franc, 10% Merlot, 7% Carmenere, 5% Syrah, 2% Petit Verdot.

I get a lot of raisin and prune on the nose (which is admittedly not my favorite) and dried fruit (as noted) predominantly through the palate. The Cab Franc comes through heavily through the middle and finish of the wine with some pretty grippy tannins if that is your thing and they’re present even after 3 days of being open. This one does stay together and you don’t have to finish it in one night. I suppose for a bigger wine with mid-heavy mouthfeel that is cab-dominated, some would enjoy it but it’s not for me – between the nose and a predominant flavor in the palate, there’s something that’s off-putting but I think it’s the nose carrying through.

It’s not without its virtues if you like what it brings to the table but for me, this one’s a thumbs down.


Broken Earth Winery 2010 Quadrant BDX

Paso Robles 13.7% ABV
60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot, 7% Petit Sirah
Cellared and bottled by Broken Earth Winery in Paso Robles, CA
$5.99 at the San Diego, CA (Downtown), store on 3 June

20170723_202414After sampling this over the two hours it has been open since I aerated it into a large Riedel wine glass, I have three thoughts about this wine: (1) This is what I get for buying a $6 domestic red blend that is Merlot-dominant at Grocery Outlet or otherwise (and I do love a good Merlot, of which I’ve had many since I started drinking Grocery Outlet wine in 2009), (2) this wine is a great example of wine that gives Grocery Outlet wine inventory a bad name, and (3) this shows how bogus wine competitions and points scorings are (2012 Orange County Wine Competition gave this wine 93 points). While there isn’t anything truly bad about it, it just doesn’t deliver at the $5.99 price range like so many over the years to which we have become accustomed. Here’s what you’ll get:

Lots of black currant, dark berries, and even some figs on the nose, but it’s one that isn’t particularly complex and without being able to offer more specifics, honestly resembles a lot of cheap California-designated wines that I’ve tried at GO over the years. It does show a beautifully dark purple color, probably the result of Petit Sirah and Petite Verdot. The palate belies the nose a bit, and at least honors the blend, but the sweetness of the Merlot overwhelms any of the other interesting characteristics that the Cab, Petite Verdot, and Petit Sirah may have offered. If you blindfolded me, I would have guessed 80% Merlot. The wine is acid with mild-medium tannins and absolutely benefits from decanting or air time, but it also blends those flavors together that emerge as rather sweet and unsophisticated on the other side. It drinks fine for the $6-10 range but for the $6 range at GO, it just doesn’t deliver. It’s solely Drinkable for me. If you or a guest loves the simpler end of the Merlot spectrum, however, give it a shot.

Villa Stellaria 2014 Petit Verdot

Alexander Valley 14.1% ABV
100% Petit Verdot
Cellared and bottled by Fitch Mountain Vineyards in Healdsburg, CA
$7.99 at the San Diego, CA (Downtown), store on 3 June

JoelA and Zoel so nicely and accurately described the wine in their posts from a few days ago. The last Petit I can recall at Grocery Outlet was from 2014 or 2015 when they had a small lot of Stelzner on offer.  Petit Verdot is one of those blending grapes, like Cabernet Franc and Petite Sirah, that I can’t pass on when I come across what appears to be (or is) a well made offering. I find their inky, darker colors in the glass seductive and it brings me back to an old EOS Petit Sirah offering for $7 from 4-5 years ago that first got me interested in the typically blended varietals and at bargain basement price points.

20170623_183718I’m in full agreement that this is a nice bottling using quality fruit at the hands of a winemaker who knows what he or she is doing. I get deep, dark fruits and spice on the nose with a medium bodied wine and pretty overt alcohol but there is enough tannin and acid here to balance things out. The palate, for me, is pretty monolithic but the fruit is juicy and delicious like a mixed grape-watermelon Jolly Rancher you don’t want to dissolve. Even though I think the Jolly Rancher wine comparison is a bit played out, questionable and/or laughable, I could not put my finger on what it is I like about the wine’s flavor specifically and this is the best comparison I can offer. It presents its fruit without apology. This wine lingers and kept begging me for more.

For an $8 Petit Verdot with this much to offer, and enjoyable from first nose through the entire tasting and finish, even given that it isn’t super complicated, it’s a big Thumbs Up from me.


Auburn James 2008 Meritage

59% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petite Verdot; 15.4% ABV
Napa Valley, CA
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store on 7 June

A number of Auburn James wines arrived together, most $10 and one $15, somewhat expensive for the GO.  I thought this looked like one of the most promising.

Immediately after being decanted, the wine showed fairly simple, very ripe, red cherry fruit.  After about an hour, the wine started to open up, and after 90 minutes, nice darker complexities had developed: blackberry, blackcurrant, medium  purple cherry, dark chocolate / prune, finishing with some balancing flavor and tannin of sappy / stemmy / roasted wood.  However, this wine is way too soft, unstructured and sweet for my taste.  It’s not dessert wine-level sweet, but even when drinking this with fresh red cherries (delightfully in season now), this wine tastes sweet.  It’s a pity, because otherwise the wine tastes pretty good.

A couple days later, the saved 275ml screwcap bottle was worse.  The complexity was largely gone, and it was just sweet red fruit with a roughly woody finish.  As you probably gather, I didn’t like this wine very much.  If you’re looking for a sweet red wine with a lot more complexity than most such wines, this could be a good choice, but for me at this price, it was a Thumbs Down.

Kest 2011 Reserve “4 Cepages'”

Barossa, Australia
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot; 13% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 25 July

KestReserve_2011I thought this wine, a Bordeaux-style blend from a good wine region of Australia, looked very interesting.  I decanted this wine off a small amount of sediment.  I drank the dregs to get an idea of what the wine would be like, and it seemed highly promising: a huge nose and flavor of eucalpytus / menthol and dark purple plum.  Unfortunately, and to my surprise, the rest of the wine did not deliver.

I thought it needed 2 – 2.5 hours in a decanter to fully air.  The nose was still as strongly dominated by eucalyptus, with the fruit in the background.  On the palate, the wine is quite light-bodied for these varietals, tasting of said plum, dark cherry, maybe cranberry, and mildly spiced earth / eucalyptus wood.  The weakness of the fruit and a slight balsamic vinegar character to the acid makes me think this wine is past its prime, and I’m not sure how strong that prime was.  Robert Parker’s vintage ratings chart (linked to near the bottom of the links on the right side of the page) lists 2011 as a particularly bad year in Barossa (79 / 100).

The saved single-glass, screwcap bottle was, to my surprise, not awful.  It still needed some air to show the same nice eucalyptus wood aromatics, with the fruit a definite second.  On the palate, the tasty wood and acid were indeed the main things; the fruit showed nice Bordeaux-blend flavors (red and purplish cherry, red currant), but was really quite weak.  I had expected to go Thumbs Down on this, but the second day performance raises it to Drinkable, even if I’m still not that enthusiastic about it.

Astrale e Terra 2010 Arcturus

The producer web site says the Arcturus is made from “Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and sometimes even Syrah.”  I could not find specific info for this vintage.
Napa Valley, CA; 14.2% ABV
$8 at the Richmond, CA, store on 15 Feb

ASTRALEeTERRA_2010_ArcturusAfter the Astrale e Terra 2009 Cabernet was so tasty, I hoped this 2010 Arcturus (Bordeaux-style) red blend would be good, too.  It is pretty good, but I suspect it will get better with a little more age.

At first pour, the wine tasted of nicely complex red fruit and some of the black rock that I found in the 2009 Cabernet, but although it became more rich and smooth, the wine never seemed to fully open up to its initial promise.

So I was glad when, indeed, the saved single-glass, screwcap bottle was right away more rich and full-bodied.  With a little more air, the wine showed flavors of purple / red cherry, cassis / blackberry, black earth / rock, finishing with somewhat coarsely textured tannin.  The last couple sips, as they often are, were more evolved into a not-all-that-complex but pleasantly elegant wine.  While it’s not outstandingly stellar, I think two or three more years of cellar time would allow this to resolve into a pretty tasty wine for the price.

Mercer 2010 “Sharp Sisters” red

50% Merlot, 34% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot; 14.1% ABV
Columbia Valley, WA
$8 at the Oakland, CA, store on 26 May

Mercer_2010_SharpSistersRedI thought this looked like an interesting blend, from a pretty good year, from a producer who gave us a few decent-value whites.  I also hoped that, at this price, it should be more substantial than our usual GO fare.  However, it was not to be.

On the first night, the wine tasted of lighter red, tart fruit, but chewing on the taste gave the impression of buried layer of richer, darker fruit that would emerge with more air.  However, even after a couple hours, it never seemed to.

The second night, the saved single-glass screw-cap bottle was richer and a little darker, but still rather acid and not especially tasty.  Overall, although there’s nothing obviously wrong with it, I can’t really recommend this wine, especially at this price.  Once again, I may have gotten an off bottle.  Has anyone had better experiences with it?

Dr. Angove 2012 Red

50% Shiraz, 30% Grenache, 20% Petit Verdot; 14.5% ABV; screw cap
South Australia
$5 at the Oakland, CA, store

IMG_1385[1]I bought this wine on the strength of the Angove 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, its recent vintage, and the interesting blend.  It strikes me as pretty typically Australian and a tasty, easy-pairing wine for the money.

I opened this at lunch to go with pizza, immediately pouring out half of it in a 375ml bottle and stoppering it with very little air.  I thought it needed about an hour in the glass to soften and even out a bit.  Then, it showed ripe fruit of red / purple / black cherries, red / purple plum, and boysenberry, balanced by zingy acid, some bitterness of plum skin, and supporting wood.

At dinner, we drank the other half.  It still needed an hour of air, but was ultimately more smooth and sweet than at lunch.

Kennedy Shah 2007 Rattlesnake Hills Merlot

80% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot, 8% Malbec; 14.1% ABV
produced and bottled by Woodhouse Family Cellars, Woodinville, WA from vineyards in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA
$4 at the Berkeley, CA, store on 28 Jan

IMG_1387[1]Regular readers know I usually don’t go for Merlots, but this one was older, in a nice label and bottle, had two of the more unusual Bordeaux varietals blended in significant quantities, and came from a designated American Viticultural Area.  My hunch was correct; this wine is amazingly good for the price.

I first decanted the wine off a medium amount of sediment that had settled over a couple days.  The sediment didn’t taste bad, really, but the wine probably tastes “cleaner” without it.  At first pour, the wine is a little closed and astringent on the finish.  After an hour in a decanter, it had opened and integrated nicely.  To me, it tasted mostly of Petit Verdot, with ripe fruit of blueberry / blackcurrant and dark cherries.  Despite its age, the wine seemed quite solid and youthful, not showing much aged complexity.  The fruit is ripe enough, although not jammy, that I would have guessed its origin was California, not Washington.  Although it’s not tremendously complex, it’s certainly complex enough to be entertaining, and altogether a steal at this price.  (I couldn’t believe it was $4, but that’s what my notes say.)  None of it survived to be sampled the next day.

2006 Eagle Eye Napa Valley Voluptuous Red Table Wine, CA $8.99

Silverdale, WA    14.6% alc.    (Purchased on 1/23/15)
34.8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24.9% Merlot, 13.9% Cabernet Franc, 13.9% Syrah, 8.3% Petit Verdot and 4.2% Zinfandel

After weeks of passing this by because of the label, I decided to plunge in and try a bottle after rgardner2 and 5-Star Bar mentioned it.  I’m delighted that I did.  I heartily concur with 5-Star Bar’s analysis about this New World style red blend.  You can check out the Eagle Eye website here.  Just before posting this, I saw Joel’s comment about thinking this wine was “over the hill”.  I didn’t find that, but perhaps we have another example of bottle variation.

IMG_1980Color & Clarity: Pours opaque deep ruby/garnet.

Aromas: nose of black plum, cassis, cocoa and a touch of subtle red fruit (acidity).

Flavors: Fruit forward.  Flavors show more dark plum and cassis with cedar, earth and tar; really fine balance of fruit, tannins, acidity and very well-integrated light oak.

Texture: Thick, rich, lush and viscous in the mouth with firm, but manageable tannins.

Finish: Quite long and very flavorful.  A wine that is definitely the sum of its parts.  The minority addition of Syrah, Petit Verdot and Zin provide more fruit and substance to the Bordeaux varieties.  Quite delicious and substantial.  Voluptuous describes it pretty well.  A big thumbs up from me too!