Scholium Project

2004 Babylon Tenbrink Vineyards

The vines in the week before harvest. Note the scorched though rich cover crop beneath the vines.

This wine is now at home in many civilized dining rooms, but it is still fierce, nearly barbaric.

Its source is a remarkable vineyard, in Suisun Valley—far enough from Napa to represent the mysterious, distant East. People farm differently, vines have a different aspect, one does not feel at home on the way to this vineyard. But then one reaches it and its excellence announces itself immediately: the vines are perfectly balanced, restricted in their growth, with clusters that are few in number and small-berried. A natural cover-crop grows beneath them.

The partnership between the growers—the scrupulous Tenbrink family—and the Project was so successful in 2003 that we agreed that they would grow as much as possible for me in 2004. I harvested 7 tons—7 times as much as in 2003. We farmed even more rigorously than we did in 2003, and with spectacular results. The grapes were so healthy that I could let them hang much longer than in 2003, and they did so without any raisining. I used a new, very large, vessel to ferment this vast quantity, and took advantage of the opportunity it allowed to macerate the grapes for a week before fermentation, and for ten days after fermentation was complete.

The wine went to barrel in 50% new oak and remained there for 18 months without topping and sulfur, undisturbed since its original passage into barrel. It is beautifully fragrant, clean and direct—hardly barbarian except for its fierce intensity. It is ready to drink now and will reward you with a gladiatorial contest in your mouth—one without losers. The wine will be somewhat less fierce in a decade or so.

400 cases bottled.