Very dry, and uncommonly dense and concentrated.
Stony, savory, rhubarb.
A good wine for picnics or al fresco dining. Cold meats, cold seafood, smoked fish, and tabouleh all work well.
Hardscrabble (70%): the estate vineyard on the Blue Ridge at 1,300 to 1,400 feet with an eastern to southern slope. Deep, well-drained granite soils give cherry character and good structure. Vine ages from 3 to 27 years.
Boisseau (20%): Western facing with loamy soils, it is in the Shenandoah Valley in the town of Front Royal, about 6 miles from Linden.
Avenius Vineyard (10%) is located on the Blue Ridge one half mile north of Linden Vineyards at an elevation of 1,300 feet on a steep east facing slope. Soils are well drained, rocky, greenstone and granite.
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. The fear was that late ripening varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot would run out of warmth come October. We were prepared to reduce our potential yields by removing a significant amount of the clusters in July. A smaller crop would ripen faster.
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 going to happen when veraison occurred sooner (and faster) than expected.
Spring and mid-summer lay the foundation of the vintage, but late August through mid-October determine the style, character, and quality of the wines.
Mid-September to early October was our big break with very little rain and mild temperatures, although it remained somewhat cloudy. Ripening took its time with lower than average sugars and higher than average acids.
On the red side, Merlot was a bit stubborn. It refused to gain the flesh and fat that it is known for. Cabernet Franc produced wines with a rich mid-palate and forward fruit, but lacking in length. Cabernet Sauvignon, which had very ripe skin tannins, will supply the length. However, its seeds were not fully developed, and the forecast was for significant rains beginning October 10. We picked a record amount of Cabernet and Petit Verdot before the rains and extracted wisely (avoiding pulling out bitter components from the seeds). We were rewarded with plush, energetic Cabernet Sauvignon.
What do we expect from the 2014 wines? One can’t help from using the word “classic.” For those wanting to get an idea of what a Linden wine tastes like, 2014 will be one of the best expressions of who we are.
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.
Several blocks or sections of Cabernet Sauvignon were dedicated to Rosé production in 2014.
The blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. This vintage’s Rosé came from a blend of grapes dedicated for Rosé and red grapes where a fraction of the juice was drained (bled) off. Aged sur lie in older 500-liter and 225-liter oak barrels, and a 600-liter concrete egg. 232 cases were bottled in May 2015. The alcohol is 13.1%.