The Petit Verdot berries need very specific conditions to ripen, starting with the correct weather during the flowering period. Petit Verdot enjoys cooler temperatures than many Bordeaux varietals. Petit Verdot is very sensitive to water stress and ripens later than the other main Bordeaux grapes. This lateness in ripening and harvesting dates often precludes the fruit from being included in the final blend for most producers. Petit Verdot is most often harvested in Bordeaux after the Merlot has been picked and just before the Cabernet Sauvignon is harvested.
Interestingly, Petit Verdot has a unique characteristic not found in most grape varieties. Petit Verdot produces more than two clusters per shoot. The grape is much older than Cabernet Sauvignon. The origins of Petit Verdot are unclear. But it’s possible the fruit was created from a cross of Duras and Tressot. It is thought that the grape is one of the first varieties originally planted in Bordeaux by the ancient Romans.
Chateau Pichon Lalande in Pauillac has some of the largest plantings of Petit Verdot in the Medoc. Chateau Palmer in Margaux and Lagrange in St. Julien are also known for including the Petit Verdot in their Bordeaux wine, provided the berries were able to fully ripen. Chateau Fonbel in St. Emilion could have the largest amount of the fruit planted in the Right Bank at close to 10%. Chateau La Lagune might have the most Petit Verdot of any 1855 Classified wine in modern times as 10% of their vineyard is devoted to the variety. Chateau Belle-Vue in the Haut Medoc appellation has 20% of the vines dedicated to Petit Verdot. However, the largest plantings of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux are probably located at Chateau Bolaire in the Bordeaux Superieur region. In some vintages, as much as 40% of their blend could be Petit Verdot!
Interestingly, there are a few small producers in Bordeaux making wines from 100% Petit Verdot! Chateau Moutte Blanc Moisin, Bordeaux Superieur, Chateau d’Osmond and Chateau Mirambeau Papin all produce wines solely from Petit Verdot.