Perched up on the Eastern Napa hillside above Auberge du Soleil is Rutherford Hill Winery, which is well known for being one of the early pioneers in California Merlot. Founded in 1972, Rutherford Hill still devotes some three quarters of its production to the merlot varietal but also does some limited production blends as well.
We recently tried one of the winery’s limited production wines, the 2003 Rutherford Hill Petite Verdot (retails for $28 per 750ml bottle), and came away pleasantly surprised. Rutherford Hill took what is typically an ingredient varietal in classic Bordeaux blends and made it into a single varietal wine. You’ll find that many local producers use a bit of petit verdot to stiffen and add color to their Cabernet Sauvignon blends, but far fewer let it stand on its own.
In the glass, the wine showed a deep, dark garnet color, which is to be expected from this varietal. On the nose we got strong hints of dark red fruits like cherries and blackberries. On the palate the wine was soft and well-structured and a strong (but appropriate) blueberry flavor really came through, which we enjoyed.
Only 490 cases of the ’03 Petite Verdot, which was bottled in August 2005, were produced.
Overall, we’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5 corks. Check out the winery’s profile of this wine here.