2018 Petit Verdot "Fathom"
Santa Ynez Vineyard
Santa Barbara County
This is our third consecutive bottling of a stunning Petit Verdot within the new era of FATHOM. At this point, I am ready to proclaim, this is not a fluke; the Happy Canyon district of Santa Barbara County is the place for this intriguingly powerful variety.
Worldwide, because Petit Verdot’s wines are typically so dark and forceful, they are usually employed as varietal-lip-service in blends at a miserly rate around 2%. In places like Napa and Bordeaux, if you blend in much more than 4%, the thinking is that you run the risk of pushing your world-class Cabernet Sauvignon right off a cliff into a bitter pool of tannic table wine . Over the last few years I have been pursuing a course that simply lets Petit Verdot be Petit Verdot, and it’s all being made possible by the shallow, rocky soils, and the very warm, let’s face it, hot, climate of Happy Canyon, together beating this beast of a grape into submission. Yea, it’s a little freaky; every time I drive over there, I feel the need to crank up the Beatles “Let It Be” in my truck.
To me, this very structured, very robust 2018 bottling drinks, more or less, like most Napa producers wished their Cabernets drank over the last three decades. I say this because its uber-deep fruit is really built around cassis. Yes, it is Petit Verdot, so, of course, there is a mouthful of tannins. But as dense as they are, they are also pretty darn soft, and they are coupled with a long, lingering finish to boot. It’s the kind of wine you can lay down for 10+ years if you like the bottle bouquet and majesty that this kind of age can bring. If you can give it at least 3 or 4 years in your cellar, I think the velvety thing on the palate should start to sneak in. Foods: beef, venison, lamb, heavier tomato sauces, etc.; make the meal robust enough to match the wine.
If this continues, I will soon be ready to proclaim, Petit Verdot is Santa Barbara County’s best Bordeaux Variety. Enjoy and stay tuned!