Spring Valley 'Sharilee' Petit Verdot 2010
Spring Valley Vineyard is a limited-production winery producing only estate-grown-and-bottled red wines. For more than a century, the Corkum-Derby family has been farming the area known as Spring Valley. Grapes were first planted in 1993. Spring Valley produced its first estate grown and bottled wine, Uriah, with the 1999 vintage. Today, Uriah is one of Washington's most acclaimed red wines, and the Spring Valley family of wines has grown to include seven red wines: Uriah (Merlot-based blend), Frederick (Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend), Nina Lee (100% Syrah), Katherine Corkrum (100% Cabernet Franc), Mule Skinner (100% Merlot), Derby (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) and the newest release, Sharilee (Petit Verdot). The names given to their wines are a tribute to the family members who have struggled and succeeded in farming the same land where Spring Valley Vineyard now flourishes.
Responsible for some of Washington’s most highly acclaimed wines, the Walla Walla Valley has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years and is home to both historic wineries and younger, up-and-coming producers.
The Walla Walla Valley, a Native American name meaning “many waters,” is located in southeastern Washington; part of the appellation actually extends into Oregon. Soils here are well-drained, sandy loess over Missoula Flood deposits and fractured basalt.
It is a region perfectly suited to Rhône-inspired Syrahs, distinguished by savory notes of red berry, black olive, smoke and fresh earth. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot create a range of styles from smooth and supple to robust and well-structured. White varieties are rare but some producers blend Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon, resulting in a rich and round style, and plantings of Viognier, while minimal, are often quite successful.
Of note within Walla Walla, is one new and very peculiar appellation, called the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater. This is the only AVA in the U.S. whose boundaries are totally defined by the soil type. Soils here look a bit like those in the acclaimed Rhône region of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but are large, ancient, basalt cobblestones. These stones work in the same way as they do in Chateauneuf, absorbing and then radiating the sun's heat up to enhance the ripening of grape clusters. The Rocks District is within the part of Walla Walla that spills over into Oregon and naturally excels in the production of Rhône varieties like Syrah, as well as the Bordeaux varieties.
Producing full-bodied, rustic and deeply colored reds, Petit Verdot is one of the original Bordeaux varieties. Its bold structure, color and aromatics allow it to make a significant difference in blends with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc—even in modest amounts. While it isn’t planted in Bordeaux in great quantities anymore, it is showing a small revival in well-tended vineyards there. Petit Verdot can also produce phenomenal single-varietal wines in the hotter and drier subregions of Australia, South America, California and Washington State.
In the Glass
Petit Verdot makes an intriguing wine with qualities of blackberry, plum, blueberry or black cherry as well as violets and dried sage. Its thick skins result in a highly structured wine with tannins ranging from smooth to grainy, which take well to oak aging.
Roasted pork or grilled lamb kabobs, as well as barbeque and Mole dishes are wonderful. Hard and salty cheeses such as Pecorino, Manchego or aged cheddar can make fun pairings alongside Petit Verdot.
Petit Verdot finds a happy home also in some regions of Spain and Portugal. It is well regarded in Spain’s Castilla-La Mancha and Catalunya as well as in in Portugal’s Alentejo where it blends well with the regions' indigenous varieties.