Journal | February 26, 2018
Soils, Slopes, and Great Red Wines
I’ve had an article in my head for the past couple of years. Last month I was contacted by Linda McKee, editor of Wines and Vines, a well-respected trade journal. She wanted to know if I would be interested in writing another piece (I wrote something for W&V last year). The subject would be on the relationship of vines, soils and slopes. But this was too broad and I needed to narrow the focus. I decided to write about what I have learned about fine red wine growing at Linden (Hardscrabble specifically) over the past three decades and how vineyard planting decisions significantly determine red wine quality over the life of the vineyard.
I also needed some corroboration from colleagues who were also doing some good work on understanding soil/vine relationships at their perspective vineyards. So a group of us from RdV, Linden and Barboursville met last Friday and talked and tasted and learned from each other. We focused on the four Bordeaux varieties that we all grow and use for the blending of our top wines (Barboursville Octagon, RdV Lost Mountain and Linden Hardscrabble): Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
I was relieved that there was consensus. Each operation is fine-tuning their plantings according to the soils and slopes on their farms. This may not sound like a big deal to some, but the progress we have made in the last few decades is outstanding. Most of the future quality improvements of Virginia red wines will be related to this notion. I’ll post the article after it comes out, probably in a few months.