A Big Fish in a Small Pond Wine
Moon Curser continues to be the mad scientist of the Okanagan.
Moon Curser Petit Verdot 2012, $29
When you’re a young wine region like the Okanagan, you can go one of two ways: you can follow the lessons of the regions that have gone before you, add in a dash of terroir and try to compete with the big boys, hoping that your $30 Cabernet isn’t overshadowed by California or undercut by Chile. Or you can throw the playbook out altogether and just plant whatever excites you and hope that it does well in our climate. Moon Curser does both. Their Syrah won a gold medal at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards, but they also do some things that are at first blush, crazy. They grow a brilliant Touriga Nacional (the national grape of Portugal), a Carmenere (the same for Chile), and an Arneis (the white grape of Piedmont). In this group a Petit Verdot seems almost tame. It is, after all, one of the grape varieties of Bordeaux, which makes it vitis vinfera royalty, but it’s never been considered a grape that does particularly well on its own. It can be hard and tannic and even when it’s used in Left Bank Bordeaux it’s rare for the percentage gets higher than 3% of the blend.
So it takes some moxie to ignore Bordeaux’s four centuries of experience and decide you’re going to make a Petit Verdot—but isn’t moxie exactly what a new wine region should specialize in? It is and this wine is proof of that. It’s tannic, sure , but modern winemaking techniques ensure it’s less so than some of the flagship cabernets the Okanagan is producing. What it does show is the textbook aromas of violets that the grape specializes in, with some subsidiary graphite notes that keep it the wine serious and on point. More importantly the grape imparts some serious acidity that is often lacking in Okanagan reds. Above all the wine is cool—bring a bottle of this to a dinner party and you can be sure that no one else will have brought a Petit Verdot (unless they buy the Pirramamma from Australia, which is also pretty great).
Just make sure you make a toast to the rule breakers.