Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Linden Vineyards

We have been remiss in getting to Linden this year; up until now, we've just been running around like crazy. It seems that this happens to us each year. We visit wineries in the late fall, winter, and early spring. Our busy season at the restaurant correlates almost perfectly with the busy season at wineries. And so now that the 2013 vintage is in the cellar and things are slowing down, so they are at the restaurant and in our personal lives as well.

Cellar Tasting Note Sheet

This past weekend, we met our friends Bill and Drew there, and were joined by their friend Michel. We started by doing a cellar tasting, then coming back upstairs for a bite to eat and some Hardscrabble Red 2009, and then Ann and I drove over to Michel's at Mt. Welby just around the corner for a little Avenius Red 2009 and some goat cheese, while Bill and Drew made the trek back to the city.

I always like to do the pay-to-play cellar tasting at Linden; I think it is one of the best tastings anywhere, from an educational point of view. In tastings past, one of the Linden employees has described the sites, the oak regimens, and so forth in explaining how the two side-by-side wines differ. The new cellar tasting format offers the same side-by-side tasting, but is much more interactive than formerly. In this tasting, the tasters offered up comments about the fruit, flavors, nose, weight and so forth and then we got into a discussion of those aspects that contributed to what we were tasting and smelling.

We tasted Avenius Chardonnay 2011 versus Boisseau from the same vintage, then Avenius Red 2009 versus Hardscrabble Red 2009, and finally Late Harvest Vidal 2007.

Tasting notes:

Avenius Chardonnay 2011: closed nose eventually giving up some pineapple with a backing of lemon as it warmed in my hands, the nose to me is that of a classic stainless steel/neutral oak Chard, with a lemony citrus mid-palate, finishing in a big rush of lime acidity. Underlying everything is a pervasive minerality.

Boisseau Chardonnay 2011: the nose is much warmer with hints of baked apple, ripe pears, and a few baking spices hinting at some new oak, pear crème brûlée and applesauce on the palate with exceedingly good acidity for this very warm site. I believe they are picking earlier to preserve acidity, a great move for this wine.

Avenius Red 2009: red plum, raspberry, blackberry on the nose and palate, palate backed by minerality and very nice acidity, framed by fine tannins. While this is a very good wine, I could wish for a touch more length as the acid dominates the finish. It very well may come together in a few years and certainly has the structure to age very gracefully.

Hardscrabble Red 2009: dark and blue fruit typical of Cabernet Sauvignon with hints of chocolate and a bit of herbaceousness lurking in the background, a slight green/herbal character appears with aggressive aeration, youthful, exuberant, great extraction, super fine tannins, excellent acidity all well in balance, long, long persistent finish. Finest Hardscrabble yet made.

Late Harvest Vidal 2007: not a lot of experience with this wine, just finishing off the 2006 vintage at the restaurant, but coming into its own with a honeyed dried peach and fresh apricot nose and an apricot crème brûlée palate with a very surprising amount of acidity for such a very warm year.

Lunch of Champions: Wine, Cheese, Salame, and Bread!

It was a freezing cold day, sunny, wind gusts to 30 knots, and a high below freezing: what a great day to be with friends sharing wine! Thanks to Bill, Drew, and Michel for a great day!

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