Dense, sinewy, focused and linear with a griping, long finish.
Cassis and raspberry lift, smoke from the grill.
Avenius Vineyard (100%), Warren Co. just 1 mile north of Linden Vineyards at 1,300 feet elevation with an eastern slope. Soils are primarily greenstone. Merlot was planted in 2007 and trained on VSP. Cabernet Sauvignon is trained to Lyre and planted in 1998.
An extremely mild and dry winter gave us bud break a record 3 to 4 weeks earlier than average. A dry, warm April and May was welcomed by older vines, but concerning to young plantings. Flowering was still 2 to 3 weeks early, but occurred under generally favorable conditions and we were looking at a generous crop across varieties. Mid summer was hot and precipitation was variable. The vines were never water stressed during the summer. Blocks on clay soils experienced luxuriant and to some degree, unwanted rampant growth. Ultimately, clusters were healthy, but berry size was large.
Harvest began about 10 days early under typical September conditions. One day of rain was followed by a week of sun. As far as reds, Merlot was perhaps the star with crunchy red fruit, firm tannins and moderate sugars. Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot were a mixed bag, as earlier ripening sites with better drained soils matured before there was too much berry degradation. This was not the case with older vines on heavier soils as clusters began to fall apart before they were totally physiologically ripe. The weather became dry, but cool in October and any grapes left on the vines experienced sugar increases due to dehydration, but phenolic ripening had ceased.
At the winery, sorting tables were running slowly as rot and uneven ripening were often issues. Straightforward, minimalist winemaking, especially when oak was involved seemed to be appropriate.
The reds had good, fresh material, but were only barely phenolically ripe and in some cases lacked concentration. Saignée was used judiciously, usually in the 10 to 15% range for fear of over emphasizing tannins. Extractions were moderate with more focus on early timing of pump overs or punch downs. Fermentation temperatures were kept cooler than normal, rarely peaking above 27C (80F). Post fermentation maceration temperatures and lengths were cautious for fear of over extracting more bitter seed tannins.
Pressing took place after about 10 to 14 days, usually at dryness. The wine was aged in new and old French oak barrels for 18 months. Unfined.54% Merlot and 46% Cabernet Sauvignon. 125 cases produced. Drink now through 2022. 14.0% alc.