2006 Claret

Aromas:

Red bramble fruit and currants, earthy coffee and milk chocolate with a little mint and eucalyptus.

Palate:

Focused, lean and sinewy with refreshing acidity and tannin structure.

Food Pairings:

Simply prepared lean meats or roasted chicken.

Vineyard:

Hardscrabble Vineyard (70%), Fauquier Co. on top of the Blue Ridge at 1,300 to 1,400 feet with an eastern to southern slope. Deep, well-drained mineral soils give cherry character and good structure. Vine ages from 3 to 20 years. Avenius Vineyard (15%), Warren Co. is just 1 mile north of Linden Vineyards at 1,300 feet contributes good acidity and verve. Vines planted in 1998. Boisseau Vineyard (15%), Warren Co. is located on a bluff above Front Royal in the Shenandoah Valley at an elevation of 600 feet. The vineyard is west facing on light, deep, well drained loam soils. The vines were planted in 2000 and are trained on cordon/VSP trellising.

Vintage:

2006 was a good year at Linden. 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. Cabernet Sauvignon tannins were fairly supple, which is the best indicator of the quality of a vintage here. There was some dilution with late rains, which resulted in significant bleeding of the juice at crush. Dry, low vigor conditions lead to a very large fruit set and a potential enormous crop, with the puzzling exception of Merlot which had cluster sizes less than half of normal. Late June gave us a deluge of rain, rejuvenating vine growth and worrying growers about disease. Leaf pulling around the clusters was done earlier and more meticulously as a result. Weaker vines, slowed by the dry spring were cluster thinned early and rigorously. 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 veraison. Green harvest took place for the reds in early to mid-August. Young vines had very large clusters. Even one cluster per shoot was too much. This required shoulder (wing) removal to balance yields. Veraison was fairly uniform with the exceptions of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, which required more meticulous thinning. By late August we were in the unusual position of hoping for rain just before harvest, as young and swallow 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 9/26/06 through 10/26/06.

Winemaking:

Double sorting, native yeast, pigeage. Pressed at dryness. Aged in older French, American Hungarian oak for 20 months. Unfined and unfiltered. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Petit Verdot, 19% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc. 437 cases produced. Drink now through 2013.