★ ★ ★Exceptional ★ ★Excellent ★Very Good
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Linden wines are distributed by Country Vintner and can be found at retail in the District at Weygandt Wines, in Maryland at Bin 201 Wine Sellars in Annapolis, and in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington and Locke Modern Country Store in Millwood. Prices listed are at the winery.
To taste some of Linden vintner Jim Law’s experiments, compare the 2010 Vidal Riesling to the 2011 Riesling Vidal, both of which are available at the winery. He has long blended these two white varieties, but in 2011 he switched the blend to emphasize Riesling. The result is a drier, racier wine. The experiment might not last, for Law is already talking about pulling his Riesling vines. And for a last taste of Linden history, try his 2012 Seyval. Law pulled his seyval vines after that vintage to replant with other varieties.
★ ★ ★
Law’s premier red blend, made of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot and cabernet franc grown at his home vineyard, seems to be getting better every vintage. The 2009 is luscious, multi-layered and complex. The 2010, from another strong vintage, will be released soon from the winery and in distribution in the fall. “My best red wines now come from younger vines, because they were planted the right way,” Law says. Alcohol by volume: 14.6 percent.
★ ★ ★
One of my favorite chardonnays every year, though I prefer it when it’s about 10 years old. The rainy harvest, with only three sunny days in September, took its toll, reducing the crop by half and hitting some of the remainder with “good” botrytis, a rot that concentrates the juice. “It’s a little more exotic than we usually get,” Law says. I found it fresh and citrusy with a creamy texture. This includes fruit from Law’s oldest vines as well as younger plantings. ABV: 13.1 percent.
★ ★ ★
Petit verdot traditionally is used as part of the red blend in Bordeaux, but it shines on its own in Virginia. Linden’s 2010 is lush and intense, from the warmest vintage on record for the commonwealth, with dry, almost chewy tannins on the finish. It carries its high alcohol well. It needs several years in your cellar, or a few hours in a decanter before pairing with a substantial meat dish. ABV: 15.1 percent.
★ ★ 1 / 2
Richard Boisseau planted his chardonnay vines in 2000, and for the first decade “the wine was a hedonistic, fruit-driven crowd pleaser,” Law says. “In 2011, the vines became much less vigorous, and the wine shows more sophistication.” I tasted pear, apples and lemon curd, with great acidity giving the wine structure and focus. ABV: 13.1 percent.
★ ★ 1 / 2
Was western Fauquier County once a sea bed? You might think so after tasting this mineral, bracing sauvignon blanc. As good as it is now, I know from previous vintages that it will be better in four or five years. ABV: 13.9 percent.
Law’s claret is a blend of red wines that don’t make it into his top vineyard-designated bottlings. In 2011’s rainy vintage, he did not make the top wines, so his best fruit went into the claret. It’s lovely, if a bit angular, with delicious fruit and some of that graphite minerality Bordeaux fans crave. ABV: 13.2 percent.