2014 Avenius Red
This is an elegant “come-hither” wine that can be overlooked if one is not paying attention. There are layers of complexity that include various red fruits, and Indian spices, with cedar and balsamic, sappy aromas. There is core and density without any fat. A sinewy, fresh wine based on acidity more than tannins.
Avenius Vineyard (100%), Warren Co. is just 1 mile north of Linden Vineyards at 1,300 feet elevation with an eastern slope. Soils are primarily greenstone. Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot were planted in 1998. Merlot was planted in 2007.
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 vegetative growth of the vines. 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 mid-October determine the style, character and quality of the wines. The beginning of harvest started in early September. It 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.
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. Petit Verdot had good flavors and high acidity. Merlot was a bit stubborn. It refused to gain the flesh and fat that it is known for. Cabernet Sauvignon, which had very ripe skin tannins, supplied some 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 gently (avoiding pulling out bitter components from the seeds).
2014 is “Old World” in style because of the cooler temperatures and cloudier days. The Avenius Red is lower alcohol with some bright acidity. This is a compelling style for the dinner table, but perhaps not for wine writer points.
Pressing took place after about 10 to 14 days, at dryness. The wine was aged in once-used French oak barrels for 20 months. Unfined. 62% Petit Verdot, 30% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. 75 cases produced. Drink now through 2024. 13.3% alc.