Arterra Clean Wine Initiative and Linden Free-Form

Holiday party at one of my favorite wineries? Yes please! Add in sampling of clean wines around the world? WELL OF COURSE YOU GOT ME!

If I were you, I would rush to get here, because the good stuff is going FAST!

We showed up right at opening and were like the fourth group to get there.  We grabbed  a table and a nice glass of wine (Wine Friend 1 got her beloved Arterra Chardonnay, I went with the Seven Oaks blend).  The setup was great – a table of treats with a donation request for the local food bank.  They sold repurposed bottles as candles in various scents, which was a nice touch too.  Sandy made Chicken Cacciatore and was preparing to serve it.  Finally  Jason began with three samples of clean wines from Europe – we tasted a French Sancerre (made from sauvignon blanc grapes), a cabernet franc and one other wine (sorry, my notes are um, well, non-existent).  The clean wines were really good.  They’ve also added “Guest Wines” to their tasting bar:


Both of these were fun and different.  I was not as crazy about the amber wine – it was interesting to have the sample, but I doubt I could do an entire glass or bottle.  It’s fun to try stuff out of the norm.  The viura was fantastic – a nice crisp white wine.

And now for the kindness of strangers.  We met this lovely couple sitting at the table next to us who bought a bottle of the clean malbec from Cahors to taste.  Jason had mentioned that he thought  I would love the malbec.  They very kindly offered me a glass.  It was absolutely stunning.  I promptly bought two bottles for home.  I wish I remembered their names  – I gave them the blog business card – if you are reading, know that I truly appreciate your kindness, and I hope many a winery patron return it to you!  Hopefully we will run into each other somewhere again soon!

After this, WF1 and I ran over to Linden for their Free Form tasting.  This annual December event is one in which Jim Law pulls old vintages from the basement and brings them up to compare to currently released vintages.  It’s a ton of fun to see how the wines age.

We began with the 2017 Boisseau Viognier, served by Jim and by Richard Boisseau himself.


He shared that the 17 was picked early, and thus has higher acidity.  While I typically don’t care for Viognier, I did like the 17, and the 15 was a mellower version with a little more mustiness to the flavor (the mustiness that seems to be inherent to Virginia viognier is why I don’t really care much for it).

We moved into the 2016 Avenius Sauvignon Blanc – my favorite that really started me on my love of Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s so crisp and bright and high acid.  Richard served us the 2018 dry riesling after that.  Despite being dry, it had a sweet, honey taste to it that surprised me.

We moved over to the red bar, where the wonder team members went ahead and got Shari Avenius to come out so I could fanboy all over her and tell her how much I loved her wines – the SB and the Avenius red blend really do rock.


We comparison tasted the current 2016 Claret against the 2014 after decanting.  I have to say we both preferred the 2016 – the 14 didn’t taste like it opened up at all.  The 16 is so drinkable, and at a price point that makes it a nice wine for most days!

We finally took our glasses to the library, where we compared two editions of the Hardscrabble Red – the current release 2016 against the library 2010.  Again, I think the 16 showed better here – it was brighter and the ’10 just felt closed up and kind of dull.  Of course these were served by Winemaker Jonathan Webber who spoke at length about the process and how he really spends much more time in the vineyards than the cellar.  That’s what I find in general – the wines I love are from wineries where the team spends far more time in the vineyard caring for the vines than they do in the cellar changing what the vines made.


While at Linden, we ran into Matt from Wine Trails and Wanderlust and Virginia Wine Time – free form brings everyone to check out the library tastings.

We ended up sitting upstairs with one of the half-bottles of Avenius SB to share – word on the street is they are completely out of the SB now. I am devastated and anxiously awaiting release of the 2017.

As we wind 2019 down, I expect to look back on the year in wine and some new favorite spots to reminisce about, and new favorite wines to rave about.  We are thinking of ways to launch the second annual NoVa Wine Blog Cup to compete against the monolithic Gov Cup, dominated by one style and almost exclusively one winemaker.  Maybe this year we will hold a blind tasting event with 12 bottles and let everyone rate them and provide awards for those who come in at the top.  I already know where I am leaning for the medals…….

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