2006 Hardscrabble Red

Aromas:

Red currant and rose petals. Pine resin and toasted oak.

Palate:

Cherries, dried herbs and Indian spices. medium body with mineral and savory flavors in the mid-palate. Finishes with a bright acidity and dusty baker’s chocolate tannin grip.

Food Pairings:

Simply prepared, mild red meats.

Vineyard:

Hardscrabble Vineyard (100%), Fauquier Co. on top of the Blue Ridge at 1,300 to 1,400 feet with an eastern to southern slope. Deep, well drained rocky, mineral soils give depth, structure and length. Vine ages from 3 to 21 years.

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 potentially 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 veraison. 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 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 9/28/06 through 10/25/06.

Winemaking:

This is a selection of the best vineyard blocks of Hardscrabble. We hand sort before destemming and then again afterwards to remove pink berries and stem pieces. Fermentation begins naturally (no added yeast) in small one-ton fermenters. We punch down by hand once or twice per day. Pressing takes place after about 7 to 10 days, usually before or just after fermentations are complete. The wine was aged in new and slightly used oak barrels and puncheons (French and Hungarian) for 18 months. Unfined and unfiltered. 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, 11% Cabernet Franc. 454 cases produced. Drink now through 2018.