Tasting notes November 2016
Nose has nice blend of torrefaction, black fruits and savory notes. Good acidity keeps the sweet, warm fruit in balance. Very Bordeaux-like tannins. Could still use a couple more years to harmonize. (JL)
A sweet and warm entry evolving to refreshing red fruit finishing with firm, long tannins.
Indian spices, roasted coffee beans, black raspberries, very ripe plums
Lamb, beef and duck, simply prepared and 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.
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.
This is a selection of the best vineyard blocks of Hardscrabble. The 2010 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. 5% to 10% 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 (60%) and slightly used French oak barrels for 21 months. Bottled July of 2012. 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot. 15.3% alc. Drink now through 2021. 330 cases produced.