The weather didn’t cooperate. Neither did my allergies and/or head cold but nothing was stopping us from attending a much anticipated case club party at Linden. This weekend and next, the 2010 reds and 2011 whites are being released at a special event at the winery. Anyone who reads my locavore/locapour writings knows that this is my favorite VA winery, and one where we have the longest association. More than 20 years.
The events are completely sold out with groups of eight people entering every fifteen minutes to space out the attendance. Outdoor and indoor stations.
You started out on the crush deck with two different pairings of whites. 2010 and 2011 Avenius Chardonnay paired with almonds, then 2010 and 2011 Hardscrabble Chardonnay paired with salmon mousse. While enjoying the wines, you could check out the patio dressed up for springtime but not having any takers in the spring rain. The 2010 whites were our favorites, as noted below the frustrations of 2011 show in the weight of the wines.
As many of us know, 2011 was a challenging year, with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee nailing the mid Atlantic and making the wines much lighter. In fact, inside the tasting room on the regular tasting menu, the newly released 2011 red, simply called Red, not even destined to be labeled Claret, is a simple elegant but not very weighty red. Water plumping up and diluting the juice in the grapes late in the season gives you OK wines, but not the big wines of 2009 and 2010.
We then ventured down into the stainless steel tank room, taking in the view of the vines below the vineyard.
Here we found a new addition, a Cabernet Franc. This individual varietal bottling of franc, only done twice before at Linden was a pleasant surprise. None of that bell pepper thing found in so many VA francs, this is a very lovely wine. 50% Hardscrabble grapes and 50% Boisseau. Paired with lamb meatballs from The Whole Ox.
Moving into the barrel storage rooms, there were three more stations. One, the Boisseau station gave us a treat. A change to the vineyards with the first cabernet sauvignon dominant blend from Richard’s vines in Front Royal. We tease Richard a bit about his “flea market red”, as his vines sit on a hill above a very popular flea market site in the middle of Front Royal VA. The 2009 was this blend. 43% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Franc, 26% Petit Verdot. The 2010 was 65% cab, and 35% merlot. What an interesting side by side comparison.
In the middle of the three wine stations, Margaret was set up with a charcuterie, olives and liver pate on toast. She did all the catering this year. This, along with her incredible decorating skills in the winery, inspire us to say (in my old Navy terms) Bravo Zulu! for accomplishing such a transformation in the winery, and for the wonderful food today.
Margaret is in this picture, serving those tasty pates. There was also the signature huge wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano. Next stop, the Avenius Reds station. Another surprise for 2010. The Avenius is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, similar to the Boisseau in make up from vastly different due to the soil, growing conditions on the Avenius hillside, you know, the “terroir” that stamps itself into a wine’s nose and taste.
Last we hit the Hardscrabble station, where Jim was pouring for a short while. The killer 2009, which we had for dinner last night, and the new elegant but not as weighty 2010 were poured side by side. We talked to Jim a bit about this “normal” spring compared to the hot and dry spring last year.
A very successful event. Even in the rain, the place was hopping. They obviously have figured out what makes people happy. Outstanding wines, year after year. Lots of cases going out the doors while we were there.
One last picture, the redecorated entrance, although too wet and cool today to enjoy, one of those reminders that this is a laid back quiet pleasant winery for those who seriously appreciate good wines that pair well with local foods.
Stop in some day, do a tasting and see how good VA wines can be. Linden is ninety minutes away from Columbia if you head around the DC beltway and out I-66.