2014 Hardscrabble Chardonnay
Electric and nervous, evolves with sinewy density, finishes long.
Granny Smith apples, roasted pumpkin seeds, melon rind.
Baked fish or steamers.
Hardscrabble Vineyard (100%), Fauquier Co. on top of the Blue Ridge at 1,300 to 1,400 feet with an eastern to southern slope. Deep, well-drained rocky, mineral soils give depth, structure and length. Chardonnay vines range in age from 4 to 30 years, with and average of 25 years. Yields range between 2 to 4 tons per acre (30 to 60 hl/H).
Climate is what you plan for and weather is what you get. This is why the somewhat unremarkable 2014 growing season was so good: we got what we planned for. Every growing season has its personality, and as average as 2014 was, there were three aspects that shaped the character of the wines. A very long cold winter damaged some vines and delayed spring. A late start to spring can end up as a very late harvest. However, July was beautiful. Dry, warm weather slowed the vine’s vegetative growth. Instead of putting energy into producing more leaves, which will happen in a wet summer, the vines put their energy into ripening the grapes. We knew something good was to happen when veraison occurred sooner (and faster) than expected. Spring and mid-summer lay the foundation of the vintage, but late August through September determine the style, character and quality of the wines. Harvest was typical of the “cat and mouse” picking strategies that we are all now accustomed to. A few days of sunny delightful weather followed by showers characterized the start of harvest. Ripening took its time with lower than average sugars and higher than average acids. Under these conditions Chardonnay was the white grape that benefited most, making a linear, precise wine with a very long aging potential. 2014 will be “Old World” in style because of the cooler temperatures and cloudier days. They will be lower alcohol with some bright acidity. This is a compelling style for the dinner table, but perhaps not for wine writer points. Harvest was from September 11 to September 24.
Grapes were sorted and lightly crushed into the press. Fermentation starts in tank, then racked to French oak after a week. Aged in barrel, on lees for 10 months with little stirring to preserve freshness. About 20% new oak. Aged an additional 4 months on lees in tank. Alcohol 12.4 %. Bottled in January 2016. 266 cases produced. This vintage will improve over many years and plateau around 2019 to 2023.