Scholium Project

2014 La Cuve en Bois


Steve Tenbrinks 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 Wolfskill 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 as cool as possible in one of our beautiful wooden tanks, 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. The Cab vineyard began coming in ripe about a week later.

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. At the beginning of November 2014, we drained the tank and put the wine down to barrel, and it began its slow maturation.

In the summer of 2015, we began tasting the individual barrels and determined that the wine was exceptional and much better than any similar blend we had ever made. We also noticed that some barrels were better than others and decide to make the following cut: the best barrels would become their own wine, and the lesser (but still exceptional) barrels would eventually become part of the Gardens of Babylon blend. Think of it as a Reserve Gardens: more pure, more elevated aromatics, more precise structure. In the end, we kept only one barrel of this wine; to bottle exclusively for the mailing list.

The wine was bottled with one racking, no fining or filtering, with an SO2 level of 0 mg/L free and 63 mg/L total.

A note on the name: the wine was fermented in one of our beloved 70 hectoliter Radoux oak tanks. We wanted to give it a name to distinguish it clearly from Gardens of Babylon, so we left that world behind and called simply: The Wooden Tank, in the language of the country where the tank was born.

Total production: 24 cases.

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