Linden Vineyards Evolution Seminar

Linden is one of my favorite wineries in all of Virginia. Not only are the wines outstanding, but it epitomes my favorite parts of the Virginia wine scene. The small, service-focused tasting room. The lack of crowds. The rustic feel. Having the wine maker available to ask questions (when he’s not working the fields). Linden is literally my Virginia wine dream come true.

If you’re reading this, chances are that owner/winemaker Jim Law needs no introduction. But for those who don’t, suffice to say he is one of Virginia’s best and most influential wine makers.

I’ve been here a bunch of times. But today wasn’t just any tasting – it was an “Evolution” seminar, taught by none other than the man himself.

Jim isn’t a talkative guy, but he definitely loves to talk about terroir. Our discussion ranged from how he was introduced to wine, how he picked this location, to the various styles he experimented with. But most of it was about dirt – and the wines that came from it. It was very cool to listen to Jim impart decades of experience and musings.

Linden draws from three vineyards; Hardscrabble, Avenius, and Boisseau. Hardscrabble is his 20 acre estate vineyard, primarily growing cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay but home to several other varietals. Avenius is a cooler 5 acre site with a soil composed of shale, granite and greenstone; they have a mix of vinifera but the largest planting is 1.5 acres of sauvignon blanc. Boisseau is the warmest site, its 4 acres likewise a mix. Many of his wines are bottled according the vineyard they came from; it’s not uncommon to have vertical flights of the same varietal but from different vineyards.

The tasting consisted of mostly older vintages, with a handful of newer ones thrown into the mix. What we tried:

2005 “Hardscrabble” Chardonnay: Named after his estate vineyard. It was definitely aging but still drinkable, and had an oddly sweet-ish nose.

2012 Hardscrabble Chardonnay: Creamy, nice acidity

2015 Hardscrabble Chardonnay. This is one of the wines that Jim is most proud of in his entire history of wine making. Let that sink in. Big mouthfeel, long finish, nice acid. As he said, “This is the Goldilocks of wine”.

1996 Cabernet Sauvignon: Old but still good. Just as interesting was his description of the site location, especially how this particular site needed to restrict water intake.

2001 Reserve (left bank style red blend): Dark cherry, long finish, nice tannin but not overpowering.

2010 Hardscrabble (red blend): Spreads out immediately. Great tannins.

2015 Hardscrabble: Nice balance, long finish, very smooth. One of my favorites

2007 Petit Manseng: A desert wine that was thick and reminded me of lemon and honey. Also excellent.

2014 Petit Manseng: Similar but less thick or sweet

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