2006 Avenius

Aromas:

Spicy cedar and eucalyptus. Black cherry, leather, toasty oak and pencil shavings.

Palate:

Red bramble fruit and cranberry entry. Cloves and leather evolves into a bright, dusty finish.

Food Pairings:

Braised meats and polenta. Duck breast with a reduced cherry sauce. Spicy barbecued ribs.

Vineyard:

Avenius Vineyard (100%), Warren Co. is just 1 mile north of Linden Vineyards at 1,300 feet elevation with an eastern slope. Soils are primarily greenstone. Petit Verdot is on Geneva Double Curtain training and Cabernet Sauvignon is trained to Lyre. Vines planted in 1998.

Vintage:

2006 was a good year. I would have to characterize the vintage as “classic” in that the growing season was about as close to typical as is possible. There were substantial swings in temperature and rainfall during the summer, but in fact, this is normal for Virginia. The red grapes ripened fully with good balance. They were by no means overripe. They were “crunchy,” red fruit, ripe. There was some dilution with late rains, which resulted in significant bleeding of the juice at crush. Dry, low vigor spring conditions led to a very large fruit set and a potential enormous crop. Late June gave us a deluge of rain, rejuvenating vine growth and worrying growers about disease. July and August went back to being dry and hot. As a result, vines stopped their growth earlier than normal, which is what probably made the vintage for us. It confirmed to me the importance of vine balance and having the shoot tips cease growth at version. Green harvest took place for the reds in early to mid-August. By late August we were in the unusual position of hoping for rain just before harvest, as young and shallow rooted vines were showing water stress. We got more than we had hoped for in the form of Ernesto and 4.5″ of rainfall. Very fortunately, there was no berry splitting or rot, but there was some dilution. I refer to September and October 2006 as the great obstacle course, with alternating sun and rain. This pushed back ripening of the reds, but because of more rigorous crop thinning, our harvest dates were normal. Crop levels seemed to have had a large impact on red wine quality in 2006. Harvest was 10/15/06 through 10/24/06.

Winemaking:

We hand sort before destemming and then again afterwards to remove pink berries and stem pieces. Fermentation began naturally (no added yeasts) in small one ton fermentors. We punch down by hand once or twice per day. Pressing takes place after about 7 to 10 days, usually before fermentations are complete. The wine was aged in new and old (neutral) oak barrels and puncheons (French and Hungarian) for 18 months. Unfined and unfiltered. 79% Petit Verdot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon. 285 cases produced. Drink now through 2015.