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Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 7.17.46 PMIt used to be that my brother and I would both pick a bottle of wine a put it head to head and see if one of us could switch and like the other persons wine more. One Sunday afternoon, I decided to give him a call and do it again. I let him pick his wine and then decided to put a similar wine next to it. He picked the 2009 Linden Hardscrabble and I decided to also do a Virginia blend. Since he is a music fan and we just recently visited Blenheim Vineyards in Charlottesville, I picked the 2012 Blenheim Vineyards Painted Red.

The 2009 Linden Hardscrabble was made by Jim Law, who has become one of the all stars in Virginia winemaking. If you visit their site you can see lots of articles written about him and his creations. This blend is 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, & 7% Cabernet Franc. According to their site, these are their tasting notes:


Blueberry jam, pâtisserie, vanilla lift and smoky underbrush.


Dried cherries, savory, very linear, energetic, and fresh with assertive, long tannins

Although, they do offer all the information on the site about vineyard and production. This is my brother’s challenger. My wine is from Blenheim Vineyards, which is owned by Dave Matthews from the Dave Matthews band. The 2012 Blenheim Vineyards Painted Red’s label is designed by Dave himself and it is made by Kirsty Harmon, who is one of the top female Virginia winemakers. On their site, they do not even show this wine for sale and do not offer any tasting notes. The wine is a blend 29% Cabernet Franc, 29% Merlot, 21% Petit Verdot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, & 3% Mourvedre.

So how were they head to head?

2009 Linden Hardscrabble

Color – Dark, inky purple.

Nose – Cola, Chocolate, & Oak.

Taste – Plum, Vanilla, with lots of dark fruit.

Finish – Rounded edges with a really long finish, a little bit of acid but not acidic. Strong tannins.

Overall, this wine is very good and should be enjoyed with a steak. It is meal ready and very bold. In fact, it does have enough oak that in a blind taste I could mistake it for California.

2012 Blenheim Painted Red

Color – Dark purple with red hue on the edges. Really great clarity.

Nose – Black cherry, leather, and some herb I cannot place my nose on.

Taste – Dark fruit and cherry and just a hint of the licorice.

Finish – Smooth almost no acid. Medium tannins with a long finish.

Blenheim (Left) Linden (Right)

Blenheim (Left) Linden (Right)

Overall, this is more of your drinking with no food wine. It has clarity that is unbelievable. It has a good balanced blend of fruits. It is lighter than expected and if I closed my eyes on this one I could be convinced of almost all neutral oak.

Rating for both wines: A

Winner? I mulled over this for a while tasting them back and forth. Of course, my brother picked his wine the 2009 Linden Hardscrabble and I just couldn’t decide. Even though I feel like they are both solid A’s and none could be downgraded to an A- or threw up to an A+, I really had to go with the Linden. It is just slightly more complex and really lets you sit back and enjoy a good hearty well made red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon is, from what I understand, pretty hard to grow in Virginia but when they get it. They really get it.