This is the first time we have bottled a varietal Petit Verdot, not because we have any bias against the grape, but because it has always been important for blending into Eluvium and Rise. With the addition of Capstone vineyard and more access to Shenandoah Springs starting in 2019, we are now able to bottle a standalone PV. We went for a mirror image of our blending approach to Eluvium utilizing around 10% Merlot to add flesh to the middle and bring diversity to the aromatics. Much like our approach to Tannat, we question the prevailing wisdom that a powerful grape must be tamed with a large amount of small, new oak barrels. We save the new oak for the blends and look to more seasoned, larger format barrels for this bottling. We have also been experimenting with whole cluster inclusion (about 30% here) on PV in order to bring more detail and layers to a grape that can sometimes be dark and monolithic. Finally we are working with multiple vineyards that each bring a different flavor register. From the more floral and lifted aromas of the Capstone, to the mint and blueberry fruit of Quaker, to the bass notes of the powerful Shenandoah Springs, this is a dynamic Petit Verdot that can impress with its complexity as much as its power.
2019 was an excellent vintage with reds with ripe intensity and richness. The season began early, with picking for sparkling at the very beginning of August, resulting from a moderately early budbreak. While this notably early start to the vintage was psychologically challenging, the fruit was well-balanced and we’re excited to see how it develops in the cellar.
It is understandable to compare 2019 to 2017, however yields were more typical and balanced in 2019, compared to high yielding 2017. We were able to apply the learnings from the very ripe 2017 vintage to our farming and picking decisions in 2019, which often led us to pick blocks earlier; and rather than simply pursuing sugar ripeness, we have been able to farm and pick based on phenological ripeness and aromatic complexity.