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split railPetit Verdot, one of the minor grapes in Bordeaux blends, is getting some attention as a stand-alone varietal in wine regions such as Idaho and Washington State where it seems to do well in the warm, dry, high desert climate. Although it has a reputation for green tannins, the high desert heat seems to hasten phenolic ripeness bringing out its juicy, floral character without the mouth-ripping rusticity that has been its reputation.

Split Rail, an urban winery near downtown Boise, provides a good example of this change in Petit Verdot’s fortunes.

The nose is an exotic, evocative mix of red plum, black pepper, black licorice and freshly turned earth playing about on a stage of pleasant, dried herbs. Really quite enticing.  The palate is restrained at first but picks up momentum with high-toned acidity that carries through the juicy, relatively short finish. Medium bodied and linear with tannins that stay in the background, this is a genial wine but with some tension from the acidity that gives it a capricious aspect.

A lovely wine from an interesting winery. Winemaker Jed Glavin is always experimenting. He writes “Our goal is to never make the same wine twice, while always making awesome wine. Why? Well, while consistency is comforting, its not that exciting.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Billie Holiday’s amiable insouciance on Ain’t Misbehavin’ captures the essence of this wine.

Score: 90

Price: $22

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