Scholium Project

2005 Babylon Tenbrink Vineyards

Sarah on her first visit to Babylon

Babylon: 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 wine is the prize jewel of the 2005 harvest. This wine is perhaps less astonishing than the 2005 Cena, but it is much more beautiful, much more direct. It is our best Babylon yet; the clear culmination of our effort and learning in the vineyard. We managed to grow the grapes in 2005 without irrigation, in the midst of a very vigourous cover crop, and the vines responded by thinning their own fruit.

We had to witness the terrifying phenomenon of clusters spontaneously shrivelling on the vine, day after day, as we waited for perfect ripeness in the vineyard. Not shrivelling from heat, sun, drought— this would have affected every cluster nearly evenly. Rather, one cluster among four or five or ten would suddenly stop ripening, begin to dimple, then lose all turgor, and within a few days, look like a dessicated corpse. It was not beautiful—except that we knew that every remaining cluster would be stronger, perhaps had been stronger from the beginning—that the vine had chosen for us, and had chosen according to the most exacting, and deeply hidden, criteria. How could we not make good wine?

572 cases bottled.