Several weeks ago I had my first taste of wine from Scholium Project at a dinner party. The bottle in question was the night's mystery wine, swaddled in brown paper. Guests were challenged to make what observations they could. Ours included suggesting it was a New World interpretation of a regional, not international, Old World varietal and it was the result of some extremely accomplished winemaking. Beyond that, we couldn't venture. The wine turned out to be from California, one of two Scholium wines made from the verdelho grape. Verdelho is a variety traditionally used to make one kind of Madeira. It was the talk of the table.
Two weeks later, when our friend Nick Cobb of Vineyard Road, a wine importing and distribution company based in Wellesley, brought some wines by to taste - two were from Scholium Project. That second tasting confirmed that some seriously interesting winemaking is going on here.
The 2006 "La Severita di Bruto" is sauvignon blanc made from grapes grown on the east side of Sonoma Mountain. It's a big flavorful, silky wonder of a wine that - mirabile dictu (as Brutus might have said) - seems perfectly balanced at an eyebrow raising 15.6 degrees of alcohol. It's around $60 on the shelf.
Philosophy PhD Abe Schoener is the brains behind the Project - visionary, winemaker, genius loci in one. The wines are made in tiny lots (often fewer than 100 cases). Scholium's new winery is located in in Suisun Valley, a dozen miles east of Napa.
Above left, a shot of a Scholium Project cellar worker engaged in "full body punchdown" of syrah grapes.
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