Dark, savory and brooding. A very structured wine with a masculine sternness that is rich, full and warm. The 2010 vintage significantly influenced this wine making it darker, weightier and riper than is typical for Avenius Red.
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. Merlot and Petit Verdot are trained to VSP and Cabernet Sauvignon is trained to Lyre. Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot planted in 1998. Merlot in 2007.
Very hot dry conditions that were to be the hallmark of the entire growing season began in April. Bud break was two weeks early.
Flowering was almost three weeks early with hot dry conditions continuing. Fruit set was good in all varieties with the occasional exception of Merlot, which had very scraggly, loose clusters in some blocks.
Dry conditions reduced shoot growth, so only one light hedging was needed. Leaf pulling was kept to a minimum to avoid excess sun and heat on the clusters. Weed control and mowing was more meticulous than usual in order to reduce water competition with the vines. Fungicide sprays were minimal and terminated in July. A few critical rains in August prevented the vines from serious drought stress, but some of the young vines struggled to fill the canopy and started to yellow their basal leaves.
The red grapes ripened fully. The biggest concerns were over-ripeness and excessive alcohols. Skin tannins took a while to ripen, so we had to look at the trade off of ripe tannins vs. over mature flavors and high sugars. Seeds were very ripe. Merlot was the trickiest with potential alcohols of over 15% in some blocks. Significant rainfall totaling almost 7 inches came at the end of September. Most of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot were still hanging. Fortunately the vines had more or less shut down at this point so there was very little uptake of water (which actually may not have been a bad thing). Petit Verdot skins were compromised, but Cabernet hung well. Red harvest was complete by the first week of October.
We hand sort before destemming and then again afterwards to remove pink berries and stem pieces. Fermentation began naturally (no added yeasts) in small one ton fermentors. We pump over twice a day with some occasional hand punch downs. Pressing took place after about 20 to 24 days. The wine was aged in new and old (neutral) French oak barrels for 20 months. Unfined. 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot. 96 cases produced. Bottled July 2012. Alcohol 14.8% Drink now through 2022.