Monday, March 02, 2009

Open That Bottle Night Report: Scholium Wine

Saturday was the 10th annual Open That Bottle Night. Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, the wine critics from The Wall Street Journal began the event because so many people have wine in their house that they think is too "special" to drink. The result? When something finally happens that constitutes a "special" occasion, the wine is over the hill and can't be enjoyed anymore.

Open That Bottle Night gives you the permission to say "today is the day" and pull the cork on that expensive, rare, or sentimentally significant bottle.

As you might imagine, the bottles I hang on to are the ones that cost me more than $20. After a disaster or two I no longer set aside "special occasion" bottles, but I do tend to be reluctant to open something outside my normal price range.

So I opened up a bottle of Scholium Wine, the project to push the wine envelope started up by former philosophy professor Abe Schooner. (photo of Abe Schooner taken by fellow blogger Dale Cruse, from the blog Drinks Are On Me) I'm on their mailing list, and get a chance twice a year to buy Abe's wine. One reason I like Scholium is because it's out-of-the-box wine making. Usually, I'm a correct varietal characteristics maniac, and want my Cabernet Sauvignon to taste like it's supposed to. With Scholium I make an exception. Nothing Abe does with grapes fits a textbook description and his wines are a wine-drinking adventure as a result. And I'm not alone in thinking so. Other wine bloggers enjoy the challenges associated with opening up a Scholium wine and abandoning their preconceived notions of what wine should be. Check out RJ's post on Scholium at RJ's Wine Blog for an example, or Richard the Passionate Foodie's experience meeting Abe.

That spirit of adventure was certainly part of the 2007 Scholium Project "The Prince In His Caves" Farina Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($45 through the mailing list; you can get other vintages for between $45 and $49 from these merchants). I just adored this wine, but all the while I had to abandon my idea of what Sauvignon Blanc was "supposed" to be. It opened up to a cloudy orange-yellow that resembled flat beer. Initially, there was a strong aroma of pink grapefruit juice concentrate. I got some rock salt, too. The flavors were thick grapefruit juice and guava nectar at first, then there were honeyed notes as it opened up, and minerality and citrus pith as it warmed. I kept thinking that this was a wine that they would recognized in the Middle Ages, which (from the descriptions I've read) was mostly thick and mostly cloudy.

I'm glad that I took the opportunity to open this wine now, because I have another bottle of it and I will save it for a night when all I ask for is a non-boring wine. This is most definitely NOT boring, and reminded me of what Open That Bottle Night is all about: wine is meant for drinking. So just do it.


Bo Carlson said...

Very nice.

I recently opened a bottle of 2002 Quioxte Petite Syrah. I have always been a fan of Quioxtes offering, but being a small production cult wine it is hard to replenish when consumed. It kills me to open these bottles, but it is such a pleasure to drink.

Bo Carlson

@kallardnyc on Twitter

Richard A. said...

Dr. Debs:
Thanks for the mention in your post. Abe certainly is a maverick wine maker, basically following his own tune and not the demands of the market. I am really looking forward to check his his NY wines once they come into the market.

rj's wine blog said...

thanks for the mention. it makes me happy that we're all talking about scholium. i think you nailed it when you said "definitely NOT boring." i went into my first few scholium wines assuming they'd be nothing more than experimental and an interesting experience, but the ones i've had are actually good in addition to being interesting. not always an easy task, but abe sure seems to have it down.

glad you were able to not only enjoy it, but have another to enjoy sometime in the future.

Dale Cruse said...

I think Abe Schoener rocks and have been trying to hook him up with Gary V for an appearance on the Thunder Show.

Glad you liked the photo enough to use it. Rich was at the same event. Here's my writeup of the event:

On Feb. 21 I opened some "Satrapies of the East" and have ordered the three new wines Abe has coming out later this month.

In fact, I'm considering having a Scholium Project party! Dr. Debs, you're invited!

Arnaud H said...

I've become a Scholium Project cult follower ever since I tasted his Verdelho at Bouchon a few years back. There IS salt in that Sauv Blanc!

I was glad to see Abe lowered the price for some of his bottles in his latest release. This will allow more people to try his wines.

SB Wine Advocate said...

wonderful write up. I'm still not imbibing quite yet but have a hilarious story regarding an OTBN party.. I still can't believe that Dorothy and John showed up.

Amy Atwood said...

Based on your description of Scholium wines, which I have not tasted, it sounds like you might enjoy Edmunds St. John and Clos Saron wines as well.