Journal | October 11, 2016
In Sum: Harvest 2016
The fog of crush is lifting, so there is time for a bit of reflection on the harvest and the potential nature of the wines from vintage 2016. At this phase it is difficult to objectively evaluate the wines, however we have a good general sense of what we can expect.
The greatest weather influence on the vintage was the hot, dry conditions of August and September. In mid-August we were anticipating a “normal” harvest in terms of timing. In fact the start of harvest was typical, but then ripening accelerated for all varieties. We found ourselves picking and crushing in unprecedented heat. This is my principle concern, especially for the white wines. While the clusters were pristine, and the chemistry was good, I’m thinking that the 2016 whites will be showy when young, but may not have the aging potential that is a hallmark of Linden’s wines. We just tasted the not yet released 2014 Hardscrabble Chardonnay which is the polar opposite of 2016. It is tight, bright and sinewy. It needs a lot more time before it is ready for prime time. The cooler Avenius site handled the heat the best in 2016 and should produce the most promising wines.
Reds handle heat and drought better than whites. We have a lot of good material to work with, but there were some exceptions. Young vines may have been more impacted by hydric (water) stress than we had thought. They did not show overt signs of stress in the canopy as leaves, tendrils and shoot tips were all fairly normal looking. However, in some cases we saw a lack of uniformity in berry development leading to an unusual amount of pink berries on the sorting table. Older vines with deeper, more established roots seemed unaffected and benefited from a mild hydric stress. 2016 brought us the ripest Cabernet Sauvignon since 2010. This favors Hardscrabble Red which is always Cabernet dominated. The reds should be plusher and rounder than the past five vintages.
Now that harvest is over (although we still have Vidal on the vine), my daily harvest missives will come to an end. I’ll be writing about the wines as they develop. My hope is to continue Journal entries on a regular basis. Thanks for reading!