Posts Tagged With: Linden Vineyards

2008 Vintage Update from Virginia Vintner – Jim Law

The following report on the 2008 growing season is from Jim Law at Linden Vineyards.


Vintage 2008 at Linden


The 2008 growing season at Linden Vineyards was one of great challenges and windows of opportunities. As winegrowers, we had to often reflect on past experiences to pull off what has turned out to be a good year in terms of overall quality.


Winter was extremely mild and uneventful. Bud break was at typical timing in April. May was a very difficult month with cool, wet weather that brought concerns of disease and poor flowering (there was talk about another 2003, which was our most difficult vintage). Early June turned our spirits and hopes as beautiful warm, sunny days resulted in a very successful flowering and fruit set. Summer was wetter than normal, but each month progressively became hotter and drier. Most of August was a drought, putting a much needed halt to vine vegetative growth. Very late August through most of September alternated between 2 or 3 days of rain and 4 or 5 days of sunny, warm conditions. October was gloriously dry, sunny and warm.


In the vineyard, because of the wetter than normal conditions, canopy and cover crop management required much precision and labor. Leaf pulling severity was much more extreme than 2007. Cover crops were allowed to grow in order to compete with the vines and slow vegetative growth.


While a dry August kept berry size relatively small, the rains of September caused some Botrytis rot in most of the white varieties and Merlot. Fortunately the rot was mostly of ‘good quality’ (very little sour rot), but sorting was a major task in 2008. Natural acidities were quite high. White wines from 2008 will be very mineral driven (similar to 2006) with bright acidity, low to moderate alcohols, and botrytis influenced exotic aromas.


Red wine style and quality was variety, vine age and vineyard site specific. Early ripening varieties (Merlot) and sites took the biggest brunt of the September rains. Unfortunately I can taste the rain in these wines. They lack concentration. Later ripening grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Carmenere) benefited from the dry October and have intense concentration and very high alcohols. Some of this was a result from berry desiccation, which raises concerns of more dried fruit characters in the wines. Blending decisions will be critical in producing a balanced wine. At the time of this writing it is too early to characterize the 2008 red wine characteristics and quality.

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Nothing small about this Petit Verdot!

Petit Verdot, one of the five red Bordeaux varietals is rarely produced as a single varietal. It is most often used in blends, to add color, and structure as well as some of its natural dark fruity notes. Here in Virginia there is a producer that is making it as a single varietal and doing a damn good job of it. I wrote about Glen Manor vineyards a while back after I visited their brand new tasting room and met Jeff White, the winemaker and owner.  For those who didn’t know, Jeff’s grapes were behind the excellent vineyard designated wines (Glen Manor Red) that were produced by Jim Law at Linden Vineyards for several years. Jeff is on his own now, and of his first bottlings the 2005 Petit Verdot is stellar. Petit Verdot is generally a late ripening grape, which makes it even more amazing that a Virginia vineyard can produce it so well.


Megan and I sat down last night with some of our homemade veggie pizza and opened one of the bottles we picked up back in May.  The color is simply amazing, dark purple that fades to magenta at the edges, reminding you of a young Zinfandel. Jeff provides some great info on the vintage as well as the winemaking process for this wine, so rather than paraphrase, I just throw it all in.


Vineyard: Located on the west slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, around 1,100 feet above sea level.  This planting consists of .6 acre of 8 year old vines growing in deep and well drained soils, (Myersville/Catoctin).  The vines are cordon trained and spur pruned to the Geneva Double Curtain trellising system.

Vintage: This was a classic Virginia vintage with normal rainfall, sunshine and temperatures.  Spring began cool which delayed bud break and summer also started rather cool but gradually warmed to normal Virginia summertime temperatures.  Just in time for verasion and ripening, August was hot and dry, followed by a dry September and near dry October.  In early October the remnants of hurricane Tammy left 4.5 inches of rain. After about two weeks, the vineyard dried, the grapes were harvested on October 21, 2005. 

Winemaking: The grapes were hand picked and then double sorted, (pre-destemming and post-destemming), to remove unripe pink berries and stem fragments.  Fermentation began naturally in small one ton bins and punch downs occurred one to two times per day.  Pressing took place about 7 to 10 days later, before fermentation had finished.  This wine aged in new and old French, Hungarian and Virginia oak barrels for 28 months.   Unfined and unfiltered, it is 100% Petit Verdot.  73 cases produced.  Best, 2010 through 2015.

2005gmpetitverdotMy Tasting Notes –


Nose – Blackberry, pine, tar, blueberry pie, hint of prune

Taste – Sweet cedar, black currant, leather, smoke

Mouthfeel – Medium to fuller bodied, smooth in the middle but the tannins were nice and fuzzy and the acid levels were perfect with all the rich fruit flavors

Finish – dry and long, with the tannins leaving a nice peach fuzz feeling on the tounge and cheeks. Notes of pine and blackberry lingered on for a while.


My wife made the comment, “wow, I can’t believe this came from Virginia.”  Not that we both haven’t had wines we loved from Virginia, there are many, this was just truly great. Excellent rich and full mouthfeel, loads of dark fruit, and structure that shows the aging potential of the wine.  This was great with our pizza, but you meet lovers could put this with some nice lamb or roast beef and I think it would pair beautifully. 


Personally I can’t wait for Glen Manor to release their next wines, I believe a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are up for their next vintage.



Categories: $10-$20, virginia wine, wine review | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Sipping on Virginia Wine – Linden Vineyards 2004 Claret

Linden without a doubt, in my mind, one of the top producers of wine in the state. Their wines are consistently good across the board and their prices really match with the quality of the wine you are getting.  Today I am writing about their 2004 Claret, a blend of 48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Petit Verdot, 13% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Franc.  The Claret is offered on Lindens regular tasting room list that is offered for free, and the last time we were there we got to taste the 2004 and 2005 side by side. If you really want to get into the meat of what Linden offers make sure to check out their reserve tasting that is only offered on the weekends.


Jim Law the winemaker does a great job of providing info on his wines via their webpage so below is all about this Claret.

Vineyards: Hardscrabble Vineyard (59%), Fauquier Co. on top of the Blue Ridge at 1,300 to 1,400 feet with an eastern to southern slope. Deep, well-drained mineral soils give cherry character and good structure. Vine ages from 12 to 19 years.

Glen Manor Vineyard (17%), Warren Co. is on the western slope of the Blue Ridge about 7 miles west of Linden Vineyards at an elevation of 1,100 feet. The deep, fertile soils give roundness. The vines are 9 years old and trained on the French lyre system.

Avenius Vineyard (20%), Warren Co. is just 1 mile north of Linden Vineyards at 1,300 feet contributes good acidity and verve. Vine age is 7 years.

Boisseau Vineyard (4%), Warren Co. is located on a bluff above Front Royal in the Shenandoah Valley at an elevation of 600 feet. The vineyard is west facing on light, deep, well drained loam soils. The vines were planted in 2000 and are trained on cordon/VSP trellising.Vintage: 2004 can best be categorized as a roller coaster vintage. The growing season was quite good, with a very early flowering due to a hot May, below normal summer temperatures, and a slightly higher than normal rainfall. Mid August through early September was a beautiful window of perfect ripening weather. Low crop levels combined with an early flowering resulted in a very early start of the harvest under ideal conditions. Mid-September was problematic with a series of rains from hurricanes that brought some dilution and berry splitting. Late September through mid October gave us beautiful sunny, dry weather. The reds were able to take advantage of this. There was much fruit desiccation because of splitting and botrytis from the hurricanes, but this seemed only to concentrate, in a good way, as there was no sour rot or off flavors. The vintage reminds us of 1999, which produced wines with silky tannins, generous fruit and medium body. Harvest for Claret was from October 7 to October 20, 2004.

Winemaking: Double sorting, native yeast, warm fermentation and early pressing give the wine its pretty aromatics and supple texture. Aged in older French, American and Hungarian oak for 22 months.


My Tasting Notes –

Nose – Rhubarb, coffee, leather, blackberry, raw bell pepper, and scotch

Taste – Fig, blueberry, eucalyptus and cranapple

Mouthfeel – Medium body, nice acidic backbone, smooth tannins although a tad dusty

Finish – med length, hint of spice and fruity


Great and ready to drink now, but still has some legs on it to run for a couple more years. At $20 I think it is a great value, and reminds me of some of the early release 2005 Bordeaux wines that I have tasted so far.  You can purchase Linden wines from their website or from the winery as well as various wine retailers across the state.


Don’t forget October is Virginia Wine Month, so now is as good a time as any to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall weather and visit some new wineries or old favorites.



Categories: $20-$30, Linden, virginia wine, wine review | Tags: , | Leave a comment