Shiraz and Petit Verdot: Eloquesta Red Blend Explained by the Winemaker, Stuart Olsen

Why blend Shiraz and Petit Verdot?

When you first decide you want to make red wine, you can do the safe and usual thing and copy what other wine makers do. Perhaps you could make what is popular, what everyone is drinking right now. But I tend to think, if you are going to make a red wine that you identify with, that shows your talents and unique qualities of your vineyard or the variety, choose what YOU like. And what tastes fantastic and works well. that is supreme, and quite obvious.

Petit Verdot Blends: The next big thing

Eloquesta Shiraz Petit VerdotBut it is not popular… It has not even had a brief glimpse in the limelight yet. Nor does it look like it will for a while. With riesling often on the verge of a resurgence, Chardonnay in the middle of one and Grenache finally getting the glory it has deserved for so long.

Petit Verdot ripens beautifully and gives great tannin, dense dark purple blue colour, searing acid and discerning floral notes that vary between violets, rose, lavender and spice. The flavours range between strawberry, blueberry compote, plum and leather.

I fell in love with Petit Verdot instantly. I loved big, rich, tannic Mudgee NSW reds from a young age with good acid. When i was younger and just starting to explore, I wanted big lavish, decadent, rich, OTT mouth smashers – floral bombs even, with probably too much oak – no matter, I wanted the sensation. When I tried Petersons Petit Verdot and Lowes and Louee and Beaurepaires, I immediately fell in love with the structural titans that were decadently perfumed and ripe and plummy and blue and violets. They all came from Mudgee, and they were all that and surprisingly balanced. And for me that was it: I loved it as a variety.

A Wine Romance

But Petit Verdot has a tiny ‘chink’ in its armour. Something you only see with grape varieties that do take ‘forever’ to ripen, or have mass-tannin or acid. And that is, they can sometimes lack mid palate body and flavour … Cabernet sometimes does it, but not as badly, and not where it is grown warmer.  Cabernet is a rich ripe all-rounder used for reliability, but it stands out! It can bring too much, minty, leafy blackcurrant-ness to a blend.

And that my friends, is where Shiraz comes to the party. Merlot does this too, but not to same extent. You see, Shiraz is a mid palate legend. Its known for bringing broad shoulders and mass mid palate structure and something that made me fall in love with Barossa Shiraz and blends. And they can absorb mass amounts of oak, not thats what you are looking for, but its versatile and due to its mid palate density, still take it and look fantastic. But again, Shiraz can lack that ‘long-palate’ or ‘length’ structure of acid and tannin. Right out on the length and finish, unless particularly big from lower yielding high concentrated fruit.

This is where Shiraz and Petit Verdot marry wonderfully like a romance.

Petit Verdot vs Cabernet and Merlot

Folks I will put this out there: I think Shiraz and Petit Verdot integrate better than Shiraz and Cabernet! I love the age-old companionship of Shiraz and Cabernet and old vintages of Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Wynns, but for me, as i said above the leafy, minty, dark olive and black currant of Cabernet can over-shadow the Shiraz as it really is quite dominant itself.

Whereas Petit Verdot integrates and ‘meshes’, almost seemlessly with Shiraz, has similar flavour profile on the palate creating a subtle, mixed bouquet on top of the traditional savoury flavours and solid fruit weight of consummating Shiraz and Petit Verdot. All with the added extra perfume, acid and colour that Petit Verdot brings. This is what I have tried to achieve by creating my Beloved Eloquesta Shiraz and Petit Verdot.

And its why it has been so successful as an original blend in NSW, and in particular Mudgee, where the moderately high altitude, hot days, cold nights and high UV light help ripen the grapes every year and make wonderful berry rich perfumed nectars with structure and weight.

Winemakers abroad: please try it yourself. You won’t be the most popular thing a sommelier on High Street will want to offer at their restaurant; but it’ll taste really good. And sometimes thats actually what really matters. Then they will seek you out.

Shiraz Petit Verdot Tasting Notes

Eloquesta Shiraz Petit Verdot 2014Our Shiraz Petit Verdot wine has perfume, deep colour and softness. The colour is a deep garnet purple and the nose is filled with spice and sweet floral notes of violets, shortbread, plum confiture and cola.

The palate has a spicy green stem character that’s like olive oil which only teams with the newer French oak to provide support for the elegant juicy berry floral flavours of black fruits and sweet blue and red flower essence. The finish has a distinct aniseed, nougat and biscuit allure which lingers for a minute or more.

This wine has shown an ability to improve after decanting and open up for days.

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