LINDEN TERROIR

Smoky Mountrain Wine Fridge

Smoky Mountrain Wine Fridge

Moments. That is what we get in the wine industry. That is what you get as a consumer. Wine gives us moments. Sure it takes more time than that to finish a great bottle of wine but there are small bursts of energy that slightly overwhelm the senses when a wine hits you in all the right places.

When a wine is memorable what sparks those memories? The spice, the smooth silky tannins, the round earthy fruit, the grip of minerality, the waft of melon fruit.  When I am drinking an amazing wine and having a conversation with someone I cant help sometimes in mid sentence to curse and praise the wonderful phenomenon mindlessly swirling in my glass interacting with the air and changing as we speak. I feel the need sometimes to burst out with new descriptors as the wine evolves because it overwhelms me. These are the moments that make wine worth it. This is what men and women have pored over across time.

The reason I have spent so much time on Linden Vineyards is because when we were there I had a moment. Not just one but many in rapid fire succession all wrapped up into one big moment and I felt the need to write it down. That’s what blogs are fundamentally aren’t they. They are web logs, journals, and public diaries. This is why I started East Village Wine Geek in the first place to get my thoughts down not on paper but on the screen.

Among the collective moments I experienced at this amazing winery I wanted to focus on the few that were the most important. The ones that will make me want to order form the website but before I process my order cancel it and just drive back to Linden Virginia once a year just to talk to Jim Law and pick up the wines myself. Hey it’s a beautiful drive if you take the “scenic” route.

The moments I decided to focus on were the single vineyard Chardonnay tastings from Jim’s three plots. He has successfully expressed specific terroir in each bottle and they are sooooo unique and individual I had to write about them. So I want to breakdown the soil compositions of each vineyard and what I think that means to the wine. The following is kind of stream of consciousness so bare with me and I hope I have been able to convey my excitement without confusing y’all.

And so it begins.

The soils of the Hardscrabble vineyard are deep and rocky which gives good drainage and has a good amount of minerals from the earth’s interaction with said rockiness. Drainage is one of the most important elements in expressing the land in which the vines grow. Good drainage allows for consistency in food transfer to the fruit and lets the rest of the soil compounds give what they give best making for a very symbiotic relationship. Climate also comes into play of course but when you are drinking Linden Vineyards wine the soil is what translates first.

Knowing this when sipped the 2006 Hardscrabble Chardonnay I got a little weak in the knees. This is a wine that I was quite familiar with but with the soil arsenal in my brain it amplified my enjoyment of it. The nose was crisp but with depth. I love a Chard that hasn’t really been messed around with because this grape has a lot to give and if you let it do its thing with a little nudging it shows you the world. This was one of those wines. With another whiff I enjoyed some smooth tropical fruit intermingling with the slight malo that had naturally occurred in the wine making process. This wine has seen some oak but with such restraint. Chard also gives a nice depth of acidity and if you play your cards right it is a seamless element accenting the deeper parts of the wine. The oak was there but it was among and not on top of the rest of the aromas.

The palate was where the terroir came into play ten-fold. The vigor of acidity from the well-drained soils held the rest of the wine in check as subtle yet prominent doses of smooth creaminess and a peachy cashew crept up on the mid-palate. The crispy factor was there all the while keeping the party lively. Comfy weight on the mouth feel. Nice harmony.

Next up was one of two of Jim’s comparatively new vineyard sites. The Boisseau Vineyard is located some five miles west of Linden and has a completely different soil make up. This is terroir 101. The soils here are made up of clay, silt and something called loam. This is a fun little mixture because there is the drainage element with the silt and clay and a nutrient element with the loam. Loam is a temporary water holder. It allows the vines to take advantage of the nutrients it has to offer. This brings a little more depth to Chardonnay a little more richness if you will.

The 2007 Boisseau Chardonnay was a pleasure to drink and gave us everything the soil and Jim could hope for. The nose was rich but restrained with ripe fruit. There was some peach aroma in there swooning with a nice oak-depth balanced by the minerality. The acidity of this Chardonnay is calmer which I believe is a testament to the rich soils in Boisseau vineyard considering Linden doesn’t do too much intervention.

The palate was smooth and deep but restrained. The acidity was doing its job but not working overtime letting other complexities such as subtle oak spice take the stage. This was a nice Chardonnay that completely expressed the vineyard’s sense of place. I would so have this in the autumn months with some cheese or a cream sauce dish.

This is fun.

Last up is the 2006 Avenius vineyard. This is an exciting vineyard! The soil is well drained like the rest of Jim’s properties but instead of silt it has slate. And Avenius is just north of Linden. I love the diversity of soils in this area. What is also exciting is that one of the elements of the make up is rocky greenstone. I have no idea what rocky greenstone is. It sounds like a well draining compound that has been slicked with some sort of nutrient moss.  I was having so much fun in my olfactory rave party that I never asked about the idea behind it. But I have to say this was my favorite.

Okay, this wine was alive. It was sitting in the glass singing to us. You could tell from the nose it was going to be lively little number with focused floral aromas and ripe fruit like fresh apple. Under all this vigor was a slight hint of malo waving at us ready to say hi on the palate.

Deep, clean, complex energy:  that is the palate of the ’06 Avenius Chardonnay. The palate was filled with dry stone fruit and almondy undertones. The mouth feel was light in weight with good minerality. The acidity was like a cloud of control among the holding all other elements in place but it was not overwhelming no it was smack in the middle of it all just holding things up letting all other characteristics show themselves for what they were but giving them a little push here and there to accent the beauty of the whole package of this wine. The slight hints of yeast and malo were in balance with the bracing acidity. The fruit was almost floating by itself eventually melting into the acidity. It was all about…well…. the acidity. This is a wine that will turn ABC’s (Anything But Chardonnay) into lovers of this ancient, amazing varietal.

So these are just some of my moments. I hope I have done these wines justice and have convinced some to rent a car and take a road trip to this wonderful little oasis in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the future of wines in the States. Tell Jim The East Village Wine Geek says what up. Cheers.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. I love reading about you and wine .. the way you speak about it makes it so much more interesting than reading about “just wine.” (Though you on “just wine” is pretty enjoyable too.)

    Reply

    • Posted by evwgnyc on May 29, 2009 at 9:01 pm

      I am so glad you dig it! Thanks for reading. I know they are long but I am really trying to put a human spin on an ancient phenomenon that has too many “secrets” that are secrets at all. Just the facts mamm.

      EvWg

      Reply

  2. Posted by Susannah on June 8, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    EVWK,
    I may just get in my car and drive to Virginia right now. Thanks. I enjoyed your post.
    Ciao.

    Reply

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