Saturday, June 6, 2009

So Goode: Petit Verdot

Murphy-Goode has been a hot news topic since the winery posted a $10,000-a-month job for a social media maven. Yesterday's Los Angeles Times carried a story about the Sonoma winery's six-month position that entails Tweeting, Twittering and cyber-networking about wine and, we presume, Murphy-Goode wines in particular.

Winemaker David Ready Jr. is serious about wine, though humor is part of the blend. Murphy-Goode's portfolio sounds like wild nights in Las Vegas with names like Liar's Dice and Snake Eyes (Zinfandel), Wild Card and All In (Claret). We enjoyed them on a visit to their tasting room in 2007. One Murphy-Goode wine stood out above the rest, uncut and named solely for its grape: Petit Verdot.

We decanted our last bottle of the Murphy Ranch 2002 vintage last month. On deck for dinner were steaks with perfect marbling that promised flavorful tenderness off the grill. The wine poured deep purple with aromas of black cherry and flowers. One sip delivered a full and luscious mouthful rich with chocolate, cherry and plum flavors. Bright acidity gave the wine a juicy texture and finish with subtle vanilla notes on a base of minerality. Age had softened the tannins, which added just the right amount of framing to the wine's structure. It's true, Goode comes to those who wait.

We're glad to see more single-varietal Petit Verdot wines at local wine shops. The grape's concentrated and exotic flavors suit adventurous palates or those who seek a break from Cabernet Sauvignon. In Bordeaux, the French use Petit Verdot primarily as a blending grape. New World vintners have succeeded in making concentrated and balanced Petit Verdot wine from grapes grown in drier, warmer climates that allow the fruit enough time to mature and develop the flavor density fans of the wine enjoy.

Look for Petit Verdot from Sonoma's Alexander Valley, Napa, upcoming Suisun Valley, Paso Robles, Washington's Columbia Valley and yes, Virginia. We made sure to stash away a couple bottles of 2004 vintage Murphy-Goode River Ranch Alexander Valley, just in case. Will it be as good as the 2002 Murphy Ranch? Check back in 2011.

Back to that Really Goode Job. We sent the job post to a journalist who'd lost many talented colleagues to cut-backs. Here's the response we received: So do they give you enough Petit Verdot at the end of six months so you won't realize you don't have a job anymore?

Sounds Goode to us.

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