2008 Hardscrabble Chardonnay
White flowers and orange blossoms, hazelnut, ripe melon and piercing green apple.
Viscous, broad and rich, then a yin yang of a zesty bright finish that fulfills the promise of the nose.
Roasted chicken or cornish hens. Sauteed mushrooms.
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. Chardonnay vines age from 14 to 24 years. Yields average 3 tons per acre (45 hl/H).
The 2008 growing season at Linden Vineyards was one of great challenges and windows of opportunities. As winegrowers, we had to often reflect on past experiences to pull off what has turned out to be a good year in terms of overall quality.
Winter was extremely mild and uneventful. Bud break was at typical timing in April. May was a very difficult month with cool, wet weather that brought concerns of disease and poor flowering (there was talk about another 2003, which was our most difficult vintage). Early June turned our spirits and hopes as beautiful warm, sunny days resulted in a very successful flowering and fruit set. Summer was wetter than normal, but each month progressively became hotter and drier. Most of August was a drought, putting a much needed halt to vine vegetative growth. Very late August through most of September alternated between 2 or 3 days of rain and 4 or 5 days of sunny, warm conditions.
In the vineyard, because of the wetter than normal conditions, canopy and cover crop management required much precision and labor. Leaf pulling severity was much more extreme than 2007. Cover crops were allowed to grow in order to compete with the vines and slow vegetative growth. While a dry August kept berry size relatively small, the rains of September caused some Botrytis rot in Chardonnay. Fortunately the rot was mostly of ‘good quality’ (very little sour rot), but sorting was a major task in 2008. Natural acidities were quite high. The 2008 Hardscrabble Chardonnay is very mineral driven (similar to 2006) with bright acidity, moderately high alcohol (13.7%), and botrytis influenced exotic aromas.
Grapes were sorted and lightly crushed into the press. Only free run juice from two distinct vineyard blocks were used. Both cultured and native yeast. Some barrels were allowed to go through spontaneous malolactic fermentation. Barrel fermented in new to four year old French oak barrels. Aged on lees for 10 months with stirring. Bottled in August 2009. 315 cases produced. This vintage will improve over several years and plateau around 2013 to 2016.