2009 Hardscrabble

[tasted 12/16]: nose of earth, eucalyptus, jammy cassis, dried herbs and forest floor. Slides down the palate with good grip. Still very fresh with laser focus. In a good place now, but will reward with a bit more time. [JL]


Blueberry jam, pâtisserie, vanilla lift and smoky underbrush.


Dried cherries, savory, very linear, energetic, and fresh with assertive, long tannins.

Food Pairings:

Lamb and other red meat, preferably served rare.


Hardscrabble Vineyard (100%), Fauquier Co. on top of the Blue Ridge at 1,200 to 1,400 feet with an eastern to southern slope. moderately shallow, well drained rocky, mineral soils give depth, structure and length. Vines planted from 1985 to 2006. Older vines planted at a density of 600 to 800 vines per acre. Younger vineyards at 1,500 to 2,500 vines per acre.


2009 started with a very cool, wet spring. As the season progressed, weather conditions improved. June was manageable, July was typical with only the occasional thunderstorm and August was dry, but cooler than normal. It was obvious at véraison that it would be a late season and that red clusters, especially Cabernet Franc and Merlot, were uneven in their ripening. As a result, green harvest at 80% véraison was ruthless.

“Uncommonly lucky” refers to an amazingly dry stretch during harvest. Northern Virginia was spared from the significant rains that soaked areas to the north, east, south and west. Red winegrapes required judicious work in the vineyard, meticulous sorting at the crush pad, bleeding, and draconian declassification. Harvest was from October 5 to October 29, 2009.


This is a selection of the best vineyard blocks of Hardscrabble. The 2009 vintage included for the first time our new steep slope plantings. We hand sort before destemming and then again afterwards to remove pink berries and stem pieces. 15% bleed. An average of 5 days cold soak. Fermentation begins naturally (no added yeast) in small one-ton fermenters. Punched down and pumped over averaging two times per day. Extensive post fermentation macerations make for a total cuvaison of 28 to 30 days. Malo in barrels. The wine was aged in new (50%) and slightly used French oak barrels for 21 months. Bottled July of 2011. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 7% Cabernet Franc. Drink now through 2022. 467 cases produced.