Scholium Project

2005 La Severità di Bruto Farina Vineyard

farina vineyard before harvest
The upper section of farina, two days before harvest

The Farina vineyard occupies several intersecting slopes and swales on the east side of Sonoma Mountain–a little more than halfway up, and at once in the lee of the peak and immediately beneath a pass that admits a constant wash of cold air from the nearby coast. The slope, the soil, the shade, the cool all make it a very uncommon home for sauvignon blanc.

In the vineyard, the grapes were intensely aromatic; marked not by the typical grassy aromas of the variety, but by the smells of kitchen herbs: thyme, chamomille, mints, dittany, rich sage. Even while sweet and delicious, the grapes had flavors so well structured that is too little to say that they were “reserved”—rather they seemed disciplined, nearly severe.

This allowed us to foresee a special treatment on the crush pad: on the one hand, we wanted to preserve all of the freshness and severity of the grapes, but wanted to also to extract as much rich flavor as possible from the skins. So we crushed and destemmed the fruit into containers full of dry ice–thereby cooling the fruit and the inevitable juice, and protecting them both with a blanket of sublimating carbon dioxide. We immediately bled off nearly 20% of the juice, and allowed the remainig fruit and juice to macerate for four hours, all the while protected by the carbon dioxide. We pressed directly to barrel, sulfured the wine to a high degree to protect from oxidation and forestall malolactic fermentation. Once the yeasts had consumed all of the sugar, and the bones of the wine were revealed, the sense of intensity, discipline, and severity only increased. We continued with moderate sulfur additions to preserve this character from the softening effects of oxygen.

From the beginning, the character of the fruit put me in mind of the hero of Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy—Lucius Junius Brutus, who expelled the soft and rotten kings from Rome and brought order, strength, and a long-lasting energy to his city. Machiavelli’s phrase for what makes Brutus the savior of his city is: “La Severità di Bruto.” There is only the most tenuous analogy between this moral virtue and the character of the wine, but attraction is irresistable.

94 cases bottled.