2016 was a good year for white wines and an outstanding year for red wines. A somewhat uneventful winter gave way to a warm, dry March that stimulated an early bud swell. On April 9 temperatures fell to 25˚ F and damaged about 50% of chardonnay buds. With the cool weather, vine development slowed and bud break for chardonnay was its average April 20 date. Late April through most of May was very wet and cloudy. The vines did not look healthy with pale green leaves, slow shoot development, and a fair amount of phomopsis scars.
The wet weather pattern broke in late May and flowering was very successful under ideal conditions. Varietal flowering was compressed with 50% bloom for Chardonnay being June 5 and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon on June 11. The rest of June and early July was typical with occasional thunderstorms. By late July we saw browning grass and cessation of new growth, always a welcome sign. Heavy thundershowers in early August stimulated some vines in more clay-based soils, but vineyard blocks in low water holding capacity soils remained in balance.
The rest of August through most of September was very dry. September was uncommonly warm, including nighttime temperatures. This resulted in fast ripening and low acidities in white-fruited varieties. Younger vines started to shut down, but older vines with deeper roots did fine. The warmer Boisseau site suffered the most, as red-fruited varieties did not color up well and lacked phenolic integrity. However the cooler, higher elevation Avenius and Hardscrabble sites did exceptionally well and gave us some of the ripest, concentrated red grapes since 2010.
A very significant rain on September 29 brought an end to a great harvest stretch. We harvested 80% of our red grapes in less than a week. Fortunately we had picked all of our best blocks with only some lesser parcels of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon left to take the rain hit. They were picked just a few days later.
The white wines are very fruit forward with lots of mid-palate weight, but in some cases lacking the length and energy of Linden’s trademark style. The cooler, old vine Avenius Vineyard being a significant exception. The single vineyard Avenius and Hardscrabble Reds promise to be among the best vintages in the history of Linden with both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon ripening under ideal conditions.