One of the traditional classic grape varieties approved for blending in Bordeaux region, winemakers generally use it as chefs would use seasoning. Petit Verdot is often blended as 2% to 5% of the total wine in order to take advantage of some of its most dominant characteristics as dense fruit, deep purple color, powerful flavors and strong tannin structure.
Usually late-ripening Petit Verdot tends to be quite vigorous at producing vegetation, yet inconsistent at producing fruit. Also it seems to be more sensitive to vintage conditions than other varieties as it often lost to rains during harvest. For these reasons, Petit Verdot fell out of favour in its home region. It was routinely replaced or abandoned by most Bordeaux producers a few decades ago, perhaps except Medoc appellation. Later it has attracted attention among winemakers in the New World, where it ripens more reliably and has been also made into single varietal wine.
Planted in suitable climes and properly cultivated, the fruit develops in relatively small winged clusters, loosely filled with round, dark red-to-black berries with rather thick skin.
In Italy Petit Verdot is cultivated in Tuscan Maremma, especially in Bolgheri DOC, where it is used with the same Bordeaux logic, and in some other regions, for instance Lazio, where it produces interesting varietal wine.
This variety probably predates Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux, but its origins remain unclear. There are records of it in the XVIII century, but its characteristics suggest an origin in much hotter climes than the Gironde. Petit Verdot is one parent of Trousseau (also known as Bastardo), best known as a blending grape in Jura and as part of the port blend in northern Portugal. It's possible that it was brought to the region from the Mediterranean by the Romans together with grape Duras (another parent of Trousseau).