Petit Verdot | 2014 | $32
Old school rustic. Broad and full bodied with moderately high persistent acidity.
Raspberry compote, smoky, eucalyptus, rare beef
Stew, chili, barbecued ribs, or spicy sausages.
Hardscrabble Vineyard (75%), Fauquier Co. on top of the Blue Ridge at 1,300 to 1,400 feet with an eastern to southern slope. Deep, well-drained mineral soils give cherry character and good tannin structure. Vine ages from 7 to 25 years.
Boisseau Vineyard (20%), Warren Co. is located on a bluff above Front Royal in the Shenandoah Valley at an elevation of 600 feet. The vineyard is west facing on light, deep, well drained loam soils. Boisseau contributes 'fat' to the blend. The vines were planted in 2000 and are trained on cordon/VSP trellising.
Avenius Vineyard (5%), Warren Co. is just 1 mile north of Linden Vineyards at 1,300 feet contributes good acidity and verve. Petit Verdot planted in 1998.
Climate is what you plan for and weather is what you get. This is why the somewhat unremarkable 2014 growing season was so good: we got what we planned for. Every growing season has its personality, and as average as 2014 was, there were three aspects that shaped the character of the wines.
A very long cold winter damaged some vines and delayed spring. A late start to spring can end up as a very late harvest. The fear was that late ripening varieties such as Petit Verdot would run out of warmth come October. We were prepared to reduce our potential yields by removing a significant amount of the clusters in July. A smaller crop would ripen faster.
However, July was beautiful. Dry, warm weather slowed the vine’s vegetative growth. Instead of putting energy into producing more leaves, which will happen in a wet summer, the vines put their energy into ripening the grapes. We knew something good was to happen when veraison occurred sooner (and faster) than expected.
Spring and mid-summer lay the foundation of the vintage, but late August through mid-October determine the style, character and quality of the wines. The beginning of harvest started in early September. It was typical of the ‘cat and mouse’ picking strategies that we are all now accustomed to. A few days of sunny delightful weather followed by showers characterized the start of harvest.
Mid-September to early October was our big break with very little rain and mild temperatures, although it remained somewhat cloudy. Ripening took its time with lower than average sugars and higher than average acids.
The forecast was for significant rains beginning October 10. We picked a record amount of Cabernet and Petit Verdot before the rains and extracted wisely (avoiding pulling out bitter components from the seeds).
We hand sort before destemming and then again afterwards to remove compromised berries and stem pieces. Fermentation began by adding a bit of fermenting juice from an actively fermenting bin. Extraction techniques for Petit Verdot are gentler in contrast to Cabernet Sauvignon, especially in 2014 as the integrity of the skins was compromised by some rain. Temperatures are cooler, pump overs less frequent and time on skins is reduced. The wine was aged in older oak barrels and puncheons (French) for 14 months. Bottled January 2016. 88% Petit Verdot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 4% Carmenere. 13.9% alc. 480 cases produced. Drink through 2020.