Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nothing "Petit" About It: the 2004 Escafeld Petit Verdot

I once had a t-shirt that said: "Coffee and chocolate--nature's only perfect marriage." Throw some rich berries in and you have the recipe for a perfect wine: the 2004 Escafeld Petit Verdot ($19.95, WineQ; or direct from Escafeld)

First, let me say there is nothing "petit" about this wine. It is lush, rich, and satisfying. Don't let the name fool you. Petit Verdot is a robust varietal traditionally used in Bordeaux blends, where its tendency to ripen late (if at all) led vintners to rely less and less on the grape. But in California--well, that's a different story, as Escafeld has proven.

The 2004 Escafeld Petit Verdot has excellent QPR, with complex yet food-friendly aromas, flavors, and textures. Aromas of coffee and chocolate leap out of the bottle from the moment you pull the cork, and once the wine is in the glass rich berry aromas are added. Flavors of blackberries and huckleberries dominate the flavors, embedded in a silky texture. That rich coffee/chocolate mix wends its way all through the finish, held up by a nice acidity that keeps this wine from becoming a fruit bomb. I suspect that this wine will continue to improve and develop for the next 2-3 years at the very least--but who can wait to drink it that long? I know I can't, and there's no reason to wait when it's so very tasty now. We had it with some yummy burgers and a salad, but it would be just at home with ribs, any kind of barbeque, stews, or roasts of any description.

Escafeld Vineyards is located in the new San Antonio Valley AVA. Steve and Elsbeth Wetherill make the wine, and Elsbeth writes a wonderful blog that will tell you all about life in the vineyards, and how your wine was made. They're a relatively new operation, but they're receiving all kinds of accolades, including a Double Gold-Best of Class for this very wine from the 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

And if you are wondering who the lady is on the label, its Elsbeth's grandmother, Mary-Ann Jones. She was a publican's wife in Liverpool, at about the same time that my Mom was a child in the very same city. I like to imagine that my grandmother and grandfather stopped by Elsbeth's grand-dad's pub in the Whitechapel neighborhood, and that my uncle went there for his after-work pint when he'd finished walking his beat as one of Liverpool's finest.

Tonight I'm raising my glass of Escafeld Petit Verdot in memory of all our collective Liverpudlian connections. But you don't need a connection to the Mersey to indulge yourself--get some of this wine now. It's a winner.


Sonadora said...

I'm jealous! I really want to get my hands on a bottle, but sadly they don't ship to VA. Though I did get my WineQ with my Twisted Oak in it!

Anonymous said...

Ever since I found them through WineQ its become my Friday Night tradition...come home from work, crack open the Escafeld PV and have a glass.

I've been buying it by the case and it 100% exemplifies why I support any business that allows me to discover and supports the wonderful boutique wineries (a la WineQ)!

I think I saw a review by WineHiker (Russ) who raves about it as well.

Joshua Zader said...

I hosted a tasting recently at which we sampled all of Escafeld's wines that are offered at WineQ, together with a few wines from other wineries as well.

All of our tasters (there were about 8 of us) enjoyed the Petit Verdot a lot, especially given its modest price point.

Somewhat surprisingly, many of us liked Escafeld's 2003 Zinfandel even better -- including one seasoned wine drinker who described himself as "not normally a Zin fan."

I took a straw poll at the end, and all but one of our eight tasters rated Escafeld's Zin as their favorite wine of the tasting.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dr Debs, for such a wonderful post! I'm so glad you enjoyed the PV and I'd love to hear more about your Liverpool roots! I'm travelling back there next month to take my daughters home to see the sights and visit their Grandparents--let me know if there's anything I can bring back!

Dr. Debs said...

Hi everybody. Sonadora, it sounds like it's Joel you should be jealous of--I sure am--with his case of Escafeld PV. Josh, I have that zin to look forward to! And Elsbeth, you are kind to offer but I'll be "home" in June to stock up on everything I need. But one day we'll have to have a Liverpool exchange. When I told my mom where the pub was, she said "I'm sure your grandfather and uncle would know it!"