Yesterday was a wine friend 1 and Dan day. I scheduled the first of the interview series for that morning, and she was a good person to bring along to enjoy the outdoors, and then since she had not yet been to Linden and I hadn’t tasted the new rose yet, it was time to get her there too!
So first, we made an early journey to Arterra. Ahhh Arterra – if you don’t feel the stress melt away as soon as you turn left on Leeds Manor Rd, you weren’t stressed to begin with. You cross over Crooked Run on your way up the hill (I still want you to find a way to set up a tasting area by the stream, Jason) and wind up the hill into the parking area.
Jason greeted us at the top of the steps and was ready to talk. I’m working on summarizing the interview now, so stay tuned for that. But Jason, as well as his staff, have this easy going way that ensures you will have a good time there. We were there a little before opening, so we were the first customers and Jason sat down and consented to a barrage of questions.
Jason also gave us a taste of the Malbec Spritz he released the previous night at their Wine Until 9 events. He has used his 2018 Malbec, which he felt wasn’t worthy of the single varietal bottling due to the heavy rains at the end of the season, to bottle with a little bit of fizz to make a fun sparkling wine. As we tasted it, I sensed the same underlying malbec fruit flavors I get in the 2016 malbec, but there was a tangy, almost sour note that was cleverly counteracted by the fizz – while there wasn’t a sweetening to address it, the fizz overrode that sour note and made the malbec flavors what you really notice. I brought several bottles home to enjoy on the deck when it’s hot This may even get brought out to one of the neighborhood block parties in the evening this summer… I’m working on that whole Kindergarten level sharing standard still.
For the rest of the time, we enjoyed a bottle of Chardonnay with the lunch we packed, and we grabbed a few bottles.
My Recommendation: While you can, grab the Roussanne (supply is dwindling, don’t let it pass you by), and check out the malbec spritz. It’s hard to bottle and takes more time to get done, so he is doing a few cases at a time. This will go off the shelves in the summer as people discover it.
And Linden….. ahhhh, Linden.
We zoomed over for a tasting to get Wine Friend 1’s impressions. They were busier than I expected and we had to park around the side. WF1 noticed the rose bushes at the end of almost every row of vines and we stopped to think about that – my guess was that it was something French, and it was probably to keep pollinators happy year round, after the grapevine blooms were done. Once we were inside, we learned that it’s an early warning system that the French use to tell them that there is mold or mildew in the vineyard – the rose bushes will succumb first, allowing the growers to proactively address the issue on the vines before they lose vines and fruit. Very clever, those French.
The tasting menu had changed a little in the months since I had been. The 2018 rose, which is all they will do with the 2018 red grapes, was first on the menu. This was a light and airy, low-acid rose. The fruit flavors were simple and pleasant – this would be an easy drinker at a picnic. It didn’t have the strength I’ve seen in other 2018 roses, however – no varietal dominated for brought out its distinctive characteristics, so I didn’t leave with any. Also new on the menu was the 2017 sauvignon blanc and the 2017 villages chardonnay. These were good, but not as good as the 2016s – which is interesting, as 17 was an even better growing year than 16. The tasting bar employee shared that she felt both needed to warm a little (she had opened fresh bottles for us) and open up a little. Interestingly, we ended up with a glass of the 16 Villages Chardonnay on the deck and then I took home 2 more of the ‘16 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc and 2 of the ’16 Villages Chardonnay. Good summer wines abound in my collection currently.
So you may be asking yourself, what is the interview series? Well, the first installment is coming soon. In this series, I will sit with growers and winemakers to get a sense of their philosophy and how they got to that point in their journey, and try to put into words the story they want to tell with their wine and their winery. Because I agree with Wine Folly that Science + art = wine, I want to know how they arrived at their practice to make the wine, and what their message to us is. I want to start with a few of my favorite winemakers and branch out to some you haven’t heard me write about, and be able to bring readers different perspectives on working with Virginia Terroir as well as goals for the wine. Watch this space – its coming soon!
And then the next Book Club installment – chapters 2 and 3 will be posted by the end of the week. Don’t forget to read the first installment, and since amazon fulfillment workers are on strike, order your copy on WEDNESDAY when they’re done striking and join in the fun!
What Makes a Wine Worth Drinking: In Praise of the Sublime