Journal | July 23, 2018

Hardscrabble Journal

Palate Tune-ups

At Linden we practice palate-based winemaking. This means that our decisions are based primarily on taste rather than science or numbers. This works because we make wine from vineyards where we have grown and harvested the grapes for decades. There is a sense of what to expect, but always with a dash of surprise. It is the surprise part where we depend on our palates. Levels and quality of acidity, tannins, and concentration dictate picking, crushing and fermentation decisions.

Frankly, our palates are a bit rusty right now. Especially this year due to a relentlessly challenging growing season that has required our full and constant attention. Long days have sent us home late and tired. A cold beer and bed take precedent over a nice dinner with an interesting bottle of wine.

To get our palates calibrated and our attention refocused on winemaking, we schedule technical tastings. A flight of six to eight wines is tasted blind. Two or three are Linden wines. The wines selected are benchmark wines coming from respected producers whose style we admire. Before the tasting, we discuss the perceived weaknesses of our own wines. We taste in a very critical way, even knowing that our own wines are in the mix. Humility is the key to improvement and inflated egos ensure mediocrity.