Taken From Granite, Renaissance Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon "Swan Song"
Taken From Granite, Renaissance Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon "Swan Song"

Taken From Granite, Renaissance Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon "Swan Song"

California, United States 2001 (750mL)
Regular price$85.00

Taken From Granite, Renaissance Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon "Swan Song"

Sommeliers and industry insiders have long whispered about the hidden wine gems from the secretive Renaissance Vineyard. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of North Yuba County, this far-flung outpost is renowned for its robust and distinctly wild Cabernet-based wines that age effortlessly. The best come from the era of winemaker Gideon Beinstock, and he has been able to release small amounts of library wines under the “Taken from Granite” label for several years. But the 2001 “Swan Song” is likely just that: The final release of these deliciously complex, rare birds. Taken From Granite is a wine drinking experience like no other, and anyone who has an affinity for California wine, or for old-school Cabernet in general, cannot miss the opportunity to grab these historic last bottles! 

The story of Renaissance Vineyards is fascinating and convoluted, to put it mildly. For a full take on the decades-long saga, we recommend tracking down Esther Mobley’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle from a few years ago, but here’s a brief synopsis: The winery was founded in 1978 in Oregon House, California, by The Fellowship of Friends. The Fellowship was a spiritual movement that focused on art and agriculture as means of expression and self-discovery. This came to include farming and winemaking, and so they became the closest thing we know of to a  literal cult winery. Yes, you can tell your friends that the powerfully complex bottle of wine you are sharing is an “actual” Cult Cab!

Gideon Beinstock entered the picture in the 1980s. An Israeli-born painter who had been living in France, he was drawn to the rustic, free-flowing, communal aspect of artists and spiritualists working and living together in a remote town in Northern California. By the mid-1990s, he had also become their principal vineyard manager and winemaker. He was a preternatural talent in the cellar and the wines he crafted from those years are rightfully considered some of the most underrated masterpieces of California winemaking. Today he is best known for his own label, Clos Saron, where he works vineyards in the same area of the Sierra Foothills. They are among the most collectible natural wines made in the United States.

Taken From Granite is a mutually beneficial arrangement between Gideon and Renaissance which allows him to select his favorite bottlings from their large selection of library wines, and repackage them to add to his current selection of Clos Saron wines. The Renaissance vineyards have all the raw goods for greatness: old vines planted on their own rootstock (no phylloxera pressures here) on soils of red clay over hard, shattered granite with veins of quartz. And they have been farmed organically since they were planted. But the winery was not well-versed in sales and marketing, so many of these towering tributes to terroir were sitting unsold in the cold, underground cellars. That stash has now dwindled significantly and, as mentioned, the “Swan Song” is likely Gideon’s last selection from this treasure trove.

The thin topsoils, granitic rocks, and cooler temps of the Sierra Foothills add tremendous structure and ageability to the wines from the Renaissance Vineyard. Though it is approaching 22 years of age, a very vigorous and long decant of 2-3 hours or more is recommended to allow the dusty cellar funk to fully blow off and the wine to bloom. When it does a multi-layered attack of red and black currants, cassis, cigar box, menthol, mint, baking spices, and earthy porcini unfolds. All of this is held together by a backbone of savory minerals, iron and graphite, that melt into a meaty, saline finish. It’s a wine to sip over many hours, or even days. Serve in a big Bordeaux stem with your favorite grilled meats or a spread of aged cheeses. This is a deliciously eccentric California wine adventure that you should not miss!

Taken From Granite, Renaissance Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon "Swan Song"

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