Scholium Project Gardens of Babylon 2013
An ever evolving enterprise, Abe Schoener’s Scholium Project represents the soul of American innovation. Schoener has been making a huge range of quirky wines as far back as the mid 2000’s. A former professor of classics, his wines are labelled with references to classical works of literature but are usually sourced from old vine vineyards in the lesser appreciated regions, vineyards and varieties of the state. Wines range from skin-fermented, funky whites, to fresh and vibrant reds.
Constant Evolution in Innovation
Failure is the seed of innovation. Scholium Project has as many unsuccessful wines as successful wines. The wines keep evolving as a result of Schoener’s vision that wine is an ongoing experimental “commentary”.
Every wine is a single vineyard bottling and Schoener works closely with carefully selected farmers to grow and harvest the fruit. They range from Lodi to the Suisun Valley. Schoener holds the view that varieties of wine are secondary to the character of the vineyard and the microbiology of fermentation and so does not list varieties on the wine. The cepage of the various wines also regularly changes. It is an unusual view with which no doubt many would disagree, but it results in some extremely intriguing wines.
Schoener is thoughtfully engaged in understanding the changes to California wine, writing an interesting piece recently about California wine’s reception in London. He writes that the increasing London enthusiasm for these wines derives not from their ‘newness’ and ‘youth’ – factors that have excited enthusiasts in North America – but rather from the recognition that California has vineyards worthy of premier and grand cru status. Londoners are discovering that these vineyards are every bit as deserving of recognition as many of the best in Europe. It’s a fascinating take and I agree that this is the most important revelation of the “new” California.
Cheese and Wine
The cepage in this wine from the Tenbrink Family vineyard in the Suisun Valley is ever changing. In 2013 it was comprised of 50% Petite Syrah, 43% Cab Sauv, and 7% Syrah. The year before it was a blend of 60% Petite Syrah, 30% Cab Sauv and 10% Cinsault
A big wine, you can expect vibrant, juicy fruit, lively red berry and sous bois aromatics and a firm mediterranean style structure, likely from the small berried Petite Syrah.
The wine was particularly delicious with a cheese board selected for pairing purposes at the wonderful Mission Cheese in San Francisco, a perfect example of how the wine and food scene in California has evolved into one of the best purveyors of locally made, artisanal products compare to any city in the world.
$28 USD from the winery