Friday, February 17, 2017

The Law of the Land

Talk to anyone for any amount of time about Virginia wine and the name Jim Law inevitably gets mentioned. Founder of Linden Vineyards in Northern Virginia, Jim has been growing grapes and making wine since the early eighties. To put another way, in less than a decade after the Judgment of Paris that gave legitimacy to California wine, Jim decided to make a go of it in Virginia.

Since that time, Jim has developed a veritable coaching tree of Virginia winemakers that includes some of the best, brightest and most talented winemakers in the state - if not the country or the world. Jim Dolphin of Delaplane Cellars, Jeff White of Glen Manor Vineyards! Rutger de Vink of RdV Vineyards among many others got their start under Jim's tutelage before gaining recognitions for their wines in their own right.

Jim has developed a reputation - some would say a curmudgeonly one - for being constantly in pursuit of creating better and better wines. Eschewing the weddings, bachelorette  parties and bus tours that are becoming more and more common in Virginia - and provide wineries with both exposure and revenue - Jim maintains a modest tasting room, limited to small groups and dedicated almost entirely to the tasting experience rather than the total sensory one.
A locally-sourced Bordeaux-style wine in every respect. Will the day come when some wines are considered , "a Virginia-style blend?" Only time will tell.

Once someone tastes Linden's wine, you understand that Jim's single-minded focus pays off - and the knowledge he has passed on to other winemakers can only help the state as a whole.

Recently, we opened up a bottle of Linden's 2009 Claret -  Bordeaux-style blend consisting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Carmenere. Without knowing what the wine was, on smell alone, one could confuse the Claret for a wine from Bordeaux with the earth, spice and dried fruit dominant. The medium-bodied, ruby-hued blend demonstrates that more than being varietal-driven, Virginia's real promise comes in blends. Cinnamon, fig, spicebox and a little tobacco were noticeable and left you wanting to try another sip to see what else might lay in store.

While Jim Law doesn't need additional praise - having fans in both the Washington Post and the UK's Jancis Robinson, you can't help but become an admirer after trying some of his wine and be optimistic on what the future holds for Virginia's wine industry.

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