Scholium Project

2014 Gardens of Babylon


Steve Tenbrink farms two exceptional vineyards in Suisun Valley, only a few miles from each other, but with radically different terroirs. The Babylon Petite Sirah vineyard is in relatively cool flatlands in the south-center of the valley and is planted on an ancient river bed, with cobble 4 feet below the sandy, loamy top soil. The fruit ripens easily and well, with very high acidity even at great, rich ripeness. The Wofskill Cabernet vineyard was planted in the 1970s in the hotter, northwestern corner of the valley, just south of Wooden Valley. The soil is beautiful, iron-rich, Aiken; well-drained, with limited fertility. The rather old vines ripen the fruit slowly; it is usually the last harvest of the year.

In 2014, we made a special fermentation of the two vineyards: we harvested the PS first and kept it under deep chill in our single big tank for nearly two weeks, while the Cabernet ripened. The idea from the beginning was not just to blend finished wines, but to ferment the fruit of Steve’s two vineyards together. A little fermentation started a day or two before we harvested the Cab; when we finally picked it, we destemmed it directly into the PS and did a little pump-over of the PS juice to begin incorporating the two. The fermentation took off after another 5 days, and then we pumped the tank over only once a day to minimize our effect on extraction. We kept the fruit, seeds, and the fermenting wine together for nearly a month. We had harvested Hudson Syrah nearly a month earlier and had fermented all of it in puncheons with a light punchdown only once every few days, destined for Androkteinos and Golgotha. We loved the Suisun Valley cofermentation, but we thought that it lacked something in lightness and distinction. So, before we put the wine down for the Winter, we blended in 25% Hudson Syrah. We put the blend together at the beginning of November 2014, put it down to barrel, and allowed it to mature for nearly two years, in neutral oak 60 gallon barrels.

The wine was bottled with one racking, no fining or filtering, with an SO2 level of 24 mg/L free and about 60 mg/L total.

A note on the name: the wine is based on Babylon— it is essentially a lighter, less serious take on the same wine. Thus it does not have the intensity of the original city, but is more like suburbs of that city. Thus, the Gardens of Babylon.

Total production: about 24 cases.

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