Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Linden Hardscrabble Virginia Red Blend 2006

Linden Hardscrabble Virginia Red Blend 2006

We discovered and acquired this wine during our visit to the Linden vineyards and winery estate in Linden, Fauquier County, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia back in 2010. There we met and tasted with founder, proprietor and then winemaker Jim Law

The town of Linden is sixty miles west of Washington DC, located in the Middleburg Wine AVA, in the Northern Virginia wine growing region, of Virginia's nine wine regions and six AVAs. The Middleburg AVA is bounded by the Potomac River to the North and follows the eastern slope of the mountains south to the town of Linden. 

Linden produces a broad portfolio of wines including this label, Hardscrabble, a Bordeaux varietal blend. The name Hardscrabble refers to the rough rocky well drained soil there that combined with mountainous elevation above 1300 feet, provides an suitable terroir for serious wines. 

Linden Vineyards was a long-abandoned apple orchard when Jim Law and his family purchased the 76 acres in 1983, after several years of looking for vineyard land with high elevations and east facing slopes. After clearing trees, they planted the first eight acres in 1985. The original vines were mostly grafted and propagated in-house from budwood obtained from the few local vineyards in the surrounding area. 

Their first planting consisted of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Vidal, and Seyval. They built a winery building that was finished in time for the harvest of 1987, Linden’s first commercial vintage.

Of the numerous wineries we visited during our Virginia wine country tour, Linden was the only producer from whom we purchased wines to ship home, of which this is one of the last remaining bottles from that collection. Linden wines exceeded my expectations at that time, surpassing the other producers' labels we tried. 

A decade later, at fourteen years, this wine once again exceeded my expectations and rose to the occasion for enjoyable drinking, a worthy accompaniment to our left over roast beef, potatoes and vegetable dinner.

Linden wines have a distinct style. They are concentrated, mineral, and refreshing rather than fruit driven. They often require significant aging to reach their full potential. Our wines are best enjoyed as a complement to a meal.

 Since Linden’s first vintage in 1987, the focus has been in the vineyards. They have three distinct sites, each one with an evolving personality. They nurture the vines and craft their wines to best express the character of each vineyard site. Winemaker Jim Law says the wines from Hardscrabble Vineyard are 'cerebral and complex', while their Avenius Vineyard produces wines that are edgy and energetic, and their Boisseau Vineyard produces hedonistic and lush wines.

 The 2006 reds are very Bordeaux in acidity and structure, which should make them candidates for long term aging.

This is sourced from the Hardscrabble Vineyard (100%), Fauquier Co. on top of the Blue Ridge at 1,300 to 1,400 feet with an eastern to southern slope. Deep, well drained rocky, mineral soils give depth, structure and length. The Vine ages were from 3 to 21 years. The twenty acre Hardscrabble vineyard surrounds the winery building and includes some of the original vines planted in 1985.

The 2006 vintage was a good year. Jim wrote, "I would have to characterize the vintage as “classic” in that the growing season was about as close to typical as is possible. There were substantial swings in temperature and rainfall during the summer, but in fact, this is normal for Virginia. The red grapes ripened fully with good balance."

Linden Hardscrabble Virginia Red Blend 2006

This release is a complex and sophisticated classic Bordeaux  blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 11% Petit Verdot. 

Tonight this was tasting amazingly like the earlier tasting at the winery a decade ago .... Dark purple color - medium bodied - smooth, polished, nice balance of complex medley of flavors. Dark berry fruit, hint of currant, bramble, spice, herbs and slight earthiness - subtle tones of soft oak and dark chocolate on the moderate tannin finish.

RM 89 points.