December 2018: Tasting Notes
A very ripe, lush, complex nose with an earthy, barnyard background. The palate is warm and generous with firm tannins that still linger.
Concentrated cherry extract, savory herbs and a pungent, bright acidity.
Exotic Indian spices, black currant, lavender and dried herbs.
Spiced grilled meats, Southern barbecue and smoked meats.
Hardscrabble Vineyard (80%), 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 tannin structure. Vine ages from 3 to 20 years.
Avenius Vineyard (10%), Warren Co., just 1 mile north of Linden Vineyards at 1,300 feet, contributes good acidity and verve. Vines planted in 1998.
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. October was gloriously dry, sunny and warm.
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. Natural acidities were quite high.Red wine style and quality was variety, vine age and vineyard site specific. Early ripening varieties (Merlot) and sites took the biggest brunt of the September rains. Unfortunately I can taste the rain in these wines. They lack concentration. Later ripening grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Carmenère) benefited from the dry October and have intense concentration and very high alcohols. Some of this was a result of berry desiccation, which raised concerns of more dried fruit characters in the wines.
We hand sort before destemming and then again afterwards to remove pink berries and stem pieces. Fermentation begins naturally 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 at dryness. The wine was aged in new and old (neutral) oak barrels and puncheons (French, Hungarian and some Virginia) for 18 months. 78% Petit Verdot, 12% Carmenère;, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. 326 cases produced. Drink now through 2017