The 2012 Late Harvest Vidal is a departure from hedonism in favor of intellect: less fruit, more botrytis and complexity. Lower sugar, but more persistence in the finish.
Rich, decadent, fatty and salty dishes; or desserts that feature fruits—especially apricots, peaches, pears, or dried fruits. Very ripe triple cream cheeses and sheep cheeses from the Pyrenees and Virginia.
Hardscrabble Vineyard (100%), Fauquier County, on top of the Blue Ridge at an elevation of 1300 feet on a northeastern slope. Deep, well-drained granitic soils and greenstone soils. Vines were planted in 1985 on their own roots.
2012 was back to some welcome degree of normalcy after the freakishly hot and dry 2010 and the rain-soaked September of 2011.
An extremely mild and dry winter gave us bud break a record 3 to 4 weeks earlier than average. 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. August is usually the time we have finished our work in the vineyard and head back to the cellar. In 2012 tropical conditions in August beckoned us back to the vineyard to pull more leaves around bunches, aerating the cluster zones as a precaution against rot. Ultimately, clusters were healthy, but berry size was large.
Regular harvest began about 10 days early under typical September conditions. One day of rain was followed by a week of sun. Late Harvest Vidal ripened well under cooler October conditions. A significant amount of botrytis was included. Harvest was November 9, 2012.
100% Vidal, the grapes are frozen and pressed while frozen. Only the first thawed juice is used (AKA icewine). The wine fermented slowly in old French oak. This wine becomes more honeyed with age. Bottled in August 2014. 14.5% alcohol and 67 grams of residual sugar. 97 cases (375 ml) produced.