Re-post from my personal blog. Originally written Oct. 14, 2007.
Hoping to enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains blanketed in fall foliage at the peak of color, I set out for a drive and a long-overdue visit to Linden Vineyards.
The biggest threat to serious, wine-loving customers at Linden and other local wineries is the throngs of partiers who stream from one winery to another, aiming to hit as many wineries as possible in one day. Unappreciative of wine quality, and often raucous and partially inebriated, these partiers crowd the wineries, creating a frat-party type of atmosphere. It has become such a problem in California’s Napa Valley and other states such as New York, that wineries have started to impose limits on the size of groups allowed through their doors. Jim Law, Linden’s owner/winemaker, enacted similar restrictions a while ago – allowing only groups smaller than six, and absolutely prohibiting limousine tours or special events. Still, we were a bit concerned that the fall weather would bring out too many small groups of party people.
Never fear! We arrived around 3:30 to find only moderate crowds, and there was still space in Jim’s 4 pm cellar tasting. Shari Avenius, owner of Avenius Vineyards, was behind the tasting bar to help us. She remembered us as she was the one who did the cellar tasting for me, Crysty, and Mindy after our “near-death backpacking trip” that we told her all about. Shari was pouring the ’06 Seyval (as crisp, citrusy, and refreshing as ever), the ’05 Boisseau Chardonnay (a single-vineyard Chardonnay, slightly oaky), the ’03 Claret (my favorite Thanksgiving Turkey wine – light, fruit-forward, but with herb notes) and the ’06 Vidal Riesling (slightly sweet, not my favorite style wine, but still well crafted).
In the cellar we compared the ’02 Avenius Chardonnay to the ’05 Chardonnay, the latter of which had undergone completely natural yeast production with no additional yeast being added during production. I have to say I appreciated their differences, but found myself more drawn to the crisp and acidic 2002 vintage. However, I think the 2005 will age nicely, and would go well with food.
Perhaps due to the cool fall air, I was more in the mood to taste red wine. The 2005 Boisseau was delightful; I was surprised at how complex it was despite its youth. Jim seemed pretty excited about the Boisseau red, and projected it would be at its best in 3-4 years. Jim commented that Boisseau’s valley location had taken some getting used to, and he would never create a single-vineyard wine until he was satisfied that he could showcase the grapes in the best light. 2005 was the first year for the Boisseau red.
Linden’s Bittersweet, a 100% Petit Verdot wine, made in the style of Italian Amarone, was a treat. The wine had come about by accident – when the grapes started to dry on the vines (not a desirable situation), Jim remembered that he could produce a different style of wine to cope with the situation. Amarone, Italian for “big bitter,” is wine created from partially dried grapes. The 2003 Bittersweet, is a delicious surprise. With dark and concentrated flavor, Jim likens it to “Petit Verdot on steroids.” That’s fine by me, as Petit Verdot is one of my favorite grape varietals. This super star, sold only by the $25 half bottle, is definitely a wine for special occasions.
We finished with the always delicious 2004 Late Harvest paired with a gorgonzola & pear (I think) tart. The perfect end to the perfect tasting!