The Scholium Project
made Californian wines from Abe Schoener
Abe Schoener of
the Scholium Project
Schoener is an unusual winemaker. He approached wine in the first
instance from a point of view of learning about it more. ‘I came at
it for the sake of learning,’ he says, ‘not for the sake of making
wine. It was a series of experiments.’
of my educational background is that if you want to understand
something, do it from the inside,’ he explains. ‘I never thought I’d
do it for a living.’ He just jumped in, and what happened happened.
Schoener's background is that he was a philosophy
professor at St John's College in Maryland. He took a sabbatical to
work at Stag's Leap in Napa, back in 1998, and eventually gave up
the day job. He made his first wine to sell in 2000.
began making wines without adding SO2. It was three years in before
he began to learn how to make conventional wines, in addition to the
wines he was making that were exposed to the effects of oxygen
without any protection.
drives me is an openness and a desire to see what happens,’ says
Schoener. ‘It’s not unconventionality for its own sake.’
uses SO2 for some wines, while for others he uses zero or close to
zero. ‘It depends on what is the right way to work with the wine,
which depends on the fruit.’
Schoener lives in New York City, but travels out to California for
the harvest. He doesn’t own anything, but buys grapes and leases a
winery that was built for him.
regard to ripeness, he says that the drought really changed things
and allowed him to make wines with flavour but a degree or two less
of alcohol. ‘The most important factor is less solar radiation,
which drives photosynthesis,’ he says. ‘With dehydration we can we
can harvest earlier with less solar radiation.’ But he admits that
he his picking a bit later than some of his friends.
Scholium Project ‘The Prince in His Caves’ Sauvignon Blanc 2014
13% alcohol. From a high altitude (1000 ft) Sonoma vineyard with
a sandy, rocky soil. Destemmed, three weeks skin contact. Warm and
textural. Very smooth and soft, with pretty nuts, wax and herbs.
Bold and sweetly fruited with apples and pears. Lovely wine. 93/100
Scholium Project ‘Il Ciliegio’ Zinfandel 2015 Lodi, California
From vines planted in 1915, this has 24 hour maceration and is
gently pressed. Full pink colour. Textured and warmly spicy with
fresh cherries and plums. Aromatic cherry fruit. Quite lovely.
Scholium Project ‘Michael Faraday’ Chardonnay 2014 California
This is from the Michael Mara vineyard which was planted by and
is farmed by Steve Matthiason. 85% whole cluster pressed into 500
litre barrels. The remaining 15% is whole cluster with stems, and is
pressed by foot by small women and children. It spends two years in
barrel without topping of SO2 additions. Warm, spicy and detailed
with lovely texture. Rich pear and melon fruit. Fine spices. Good
acidity allied to warmth and depth. 94/100
Scholium Project ‘1MN’ Cinsault 2014 Lodi, California
From vines planted
in 1870 on the Bechtold Ranch, Lodi, on own roots. 14% alcohol.
These vines have never been irrigated, and that’s why they are still
alive, suggests Abe Schoener. This wine is wildly aromatic, with
fresh red berries and cherries. Lovely sweet textured fruit.
Detailed, fresh, elegant and fine. Pretty, vivid cherry and berry
fruit with good acidity. 95/100
Scholium Project ‘Wolfskill’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 California
From the Suisun Valley, 10 miles east of Napa. Vines planted in
1970 in well drained soils on a gentle slope. 16.2% alcohol. Sweet,
lush, ripe, intense and bold with a salty edge. Lush with the high
alcohol evident. 91/100
Scholium Project ‘Golgotha’ Syrah 2013 California
This is 100% whole cluster, 14.7% alcohol. Sweet and intense
with smooth liqueur-like fruit and some saltiness. Rich, intense and
textural with a spicy core. Ripe and alluring with a hint of mint.
Very textural with some bite on the finish. 92/100
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