When I first started wine tasting, I thought that some of these tasting notes had a “Emperor’s New Clothes” sort of feel, and especially the term terroir. I didn’t get eucalyptus from Australian Shiraz, or chalk from Chablis, or any those other things that the notes said I should be getting from the wine. I developed my palate over time, but the terroir, the aspects of the soil region that go into the wine, has always been the toughest thing for me.
Enter this month’s Cellar Reserve selection, the 2006 Hardscrabble Red from Linden Vineyards. I’ve been to Linden before on my own, and have enjoyed their wines, and they really are a hidden gem in Virginia’s wine making crown. For this wine, I decided to keep it simple, a selection of meats and cheeses, nothing too fancy or exotic, just some pork, beef and pâté from the supermarket.
The wine has the pine resin aroma upon opening just like the tasting notes indicate. I had no idea such a smell could be pleasurable! It’s a beautiful red color as it pours into the glasses and it only gets better from there. I sat about grazing, a little of this, a little of that and was as always, surprised by what I found. The wine did not go well with the spicy cheese I had selected, and didn’t really do anything for the pâté either. It was tasty enough with the triple creamed brie I had purchased, but where it really shined was with the cured beef sticks I had admittedly bought as an afterthought.
It was as if I was transported to the forest in autumn. I felt like I was running through the woods like a wild boar and enjoying the smells, the tastes and even...sights of the forests out in Fauquier County. The feeling was quite simply amazing and I could almost see the rocky “hard scrabble” of the areas where these grapes were grown. I was floored by the reaction I had to the wine and several bites and sips later, realized that I was drinking the wine too fast, and had to slow myself down to allow the wine to breathe. The bottle continued to open up throughout the evening, gracefully unfolding like a silk scarf. I got deeper currant notes and even...a hint of tobacco tar (in a good way) from the wine as it came into its own.
In researching this piece, I asked Jim Law, the owner/winemaker at Linden Vineyards for other suggested pairings. He writes poetically:
I can only relate to my personal experiences with Hardscrabble Red enjoyment: Puccini, Bergman, fine tobacco, and an open pit fire on a chilly night
To me, all of these things have one thing in common, they are not “party” sort of things. They are quiet, singular, introspective enjoyments, and go well with this wine that walks softly and carries a big flavor. This is a wine for introspection and quiet thoughts on a cold night as the leaves continue to turn. Imagine yourself in the forests in autumn...it shouldn’t be too hard with this bottle.