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Daily Archives: December 17, 2012

The Linden Library Tastings

Sold out in two days. Only 112 lucky case club members get this opportunity to participate in the first of the winter library wine tastings, at Linden Vineyards. It is one of the really great things about their wines. Their ability to age, and age gracefully. The day before Thanksgiving we all got emails. Sign up for small 90 minute tastings in the new tasting room, over January and February. Wines from the library, accompanied by discussions with the owner/grower/winemaker, Jim Law and his other growers.

We were graced with the presence of Jim Law, and with Shari Avenius. This tasting featured Hardscrabble wines. We arrived early for our noon appointment, seeing the winery decked out for the holidays.

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The wines were selected to showcase the aging potential, and paired with a benchmark wine, the whites with a white burgundy, and the reds with a Bordeaux. The selected benchmark wines were in the same price strata as the Linden wines, to give you a fair comparison.

We all introduced ourselves. Eight of us, with Jim and Shari. Three of our four couples had been drinking these wines since the late 1980s and early 1990s. We all know how well they age. The sheets:

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Yes, that is not a typo. We tasted an exquisite 1997 Chardonnay Reserve, reminiscent of stellar old white burgundies. Proof that Virginia has the potential to make long lived big wines, the kind that keep and improve with age. I did not take my camera into the tasting room, as we were just intent on enjoying the rare time to question and discuss wine with Jim. Alas, we have none of these in our cellar. The oldest chardonnay we have is 2007.

As for the reds, the 1999 is just luscious. Thankfully, we have quite a few of those here. Plus, we just drank our last 1991 in September, and I wrote about it. What was funny was that we brought up a 1999 to open in case the 1991 was bad. Obviously, if you read my other post, you know it was still hanging in there. We also have some of the 2006 in the cellar.

We had a small plate of charcuterie from a local butcher to accompany the reds. The Whole Ox, in The Plains. We have to go there. We were served a lovely pate, some andouille sausage, and bresaola.

Our last wine was a 2002 Late Harvest Vidal. Dark and dense, slightly acidic but sweet. Really paired well with the pate. All in all, worth the time and the money to go to these tastings. You can see how Virginia wines can age, and how 20 years for a red, and 15 for a white are possible with the right handling and wine making skill.

Right outside the entrance to the tasting room are those original Chardonnay vines, planted in 1985. Right conditions, well cared for, and in good years like 1997, and the latest vintage, 2009, capable of becoming greater with age. We luckily have a case of the Hardscrabble 2009 Chardonnay in the cellar, and a case of the red Bordeaux blend from 2009. A very good year in VA for wines. Getting these wines is sometimes tough, as the case club members buy then out quickly.

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The 2009 Hardscrabble red was just released to the general public this month. Get some. You won’t regret it. For a treat, wander down this winter on a Friday, sit in the cozy nook by the fire, and enjoy locally made sausage and cheeses with a warm baguette.

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Even on a misty rainy day, sitting there and relaxing is one of our simple pleasures. They have glasses, bottles and half bottles available to taste. In the winter, they are more lenient about the patio being reserved for case club members on weekends. In the crazy summer months, weekends are reserved for the hundreds of us who belong to the case club. It is our reward for our loyalty. I actually recommend that people go on Fridays to avoid the crowds. Being easily accessed off of I-66 sometimes means huge numbers of people in a small tasting space. Reminds me of Napa Valley. Amazing how Virginia has grown as a wine industry.

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