Sweet entry, warm and weighty, smoke and rosemary with gripping tannins.
Ripe, black plums, black cherry preserves, rare roast beef.
Grilled red meat, duck confit, or marinated portobello mushrooms.
Hardscrabble Vineyard (60%), 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 25 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.
Boisseau Vineyard (30%), 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.
2010 was an outstanding year for reds. The winter was the snowiest since the mid-1990s with as much as 3 feet of snow on the ground. For many weeks it was not possible to get into the vineyards to prune. Even though we were behind schedule, we were planning on a very late start to spring with the ground so cold and wet. This was not to be the case.
Very hot dry conditions that were to be the hallmark of the entire growing season began in April. Bud break was two weeks early. Flowering was almost three weeks early with hot dry conditions continuing. Fruit set was good in all varieties with the occasional exception of Merlot, which had very scraggly, loose clusters in some blocks.
Dry conditions reduced shoot growth, so only one light hedging was needed. Leaf pulling was kept to a minimum to avoid excess sun and heat on the clusters. Weed control and mowing was more meticulous than usual in order to reduce water competition with the vines. Fungicide sprays were minimal and terminated in July. A few critical rains in August prevented the vines from serious drought stress, but some of the young vines struggled to fill the canopy and started to yellow their basal leaves.
The red grapes ripened fully. The biggest concerns were over-ripeness and excessive alcohols. Skin tannins took a while to ripen, so we had to look at the trade off of ripe tannins vs. over mature flavors and high sugars. Seeds were very ripe. Merlot was the trickiest with potential alcohols of over 15% in some blocks. Significant rainfall totaling almost 7 inches came at the end of September. Most of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot were still hanging. Fortunately the vines had more or less shut down at this point so there was very little uptake of water (which actually may not have been a bad thing). Petit Verdot skins were compromised, but Cabernet hung well. Red harvest was complete by the first week of October. Red harvest was from September 10 through October 3, 2010.
Double sorting, native yeast, pigeage and pumping over. Total cuvaison about 28 days. Aged in older French, American, and Hungarian oak for 14 months. 46% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, and 8% Cabernet Franc. 740 cases produced. Drink now through 2016.