2011 Claret

Aromas:

Forest floor, black cherry, dried herbs, toasty oak.

Palate:

Medium bodied, fresh herbs and red fruit, especially cherry. A bright finish with moderate tannins giving length and persistence.

Food Pairings:

Summer grill, beef, herb roast chicken.

Vineyard:

Hardscrabble Vineyard (75%), 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 27 years.

Avenius Vineyard (10%), Warren Co. is just 1 mile north of Linden Vineyards at 1,300 feet contributes good acidity and verve. Vines planted in 1998.

Boisseau Vineyard (15%), 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.

Vintage:

The majority of the growing season of 2011 was close to perfect with dry, warm conditions all summer. Vines were in good balance with a little water stress by late August. We were ready for our 7th good harvest in a row.


It was not to be. The rains started in late August with the, albeit brief, appearance of the residual rains of Irene. This one event was not a problem. The vines needed some refreshment and the clusters were unaffected. Unfortunately Irene was just the beginning of a series of rain events that lasted through the entire month of September.

The later ripening reds that took the brunt of the storms. Berry degradation and botrytis rot dictated picking schedules. Many a cluster was left in the vineyard. Sorting tables were running slowly. In sum, 2011 vintage produced vibrant, early drinking, fresh reds. Harvest was from September 14 until October 8, 2011.

Winemaking:

Double sorting and light crushing. Winemaking was cautious and erring on the safe side: no cold soak, no native fermentations, short cuvaisons of about 14 days. Declassification was the mantra. No single vineyard reds were bottled. Claret was made with the best lots from the best vineyard sites. Aged in older French oak barrels for 20 months. 44% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Cabernet Franc. 692 cases produced. Drink now through 2017.