1995 Taken From Granite, Cabernet Sauvignon "Renaissance Vineyard"
1995 Taken From Granite, Cabernet Sauvignon "Renaissance Vineyard"

1995 Taken From Granite, Cabernet Sauvignon "Renaissance Vineyard"

California, United States 1995 (750mL)
Regular price$99.00

1995 Taken From Granite, Cabernet Sauvignon "Renaissance Vineyard"

The California gold rush has been over for 150 years, but there’s still treasure in the Sierra Nevada foothills  . . . wine treasure that is. Last year we introduced you to the insider cult classic Cabernet from the Renaissance Vineyard (and we mean cult literally, no quotation marks needed). The 2001 “Swan Song” was to be the last release from a trove of wines made by the now legendary Gideon Beinstock, but we kept digging and somehow managed to discover a tiny tranche of the stupendous 1995 vintage. This is old school California Cabernet at its peak–complex, earthy, full of savor and spice but with plenty of up front, ripe red and black fruit. Opening a bottle of wine like this is a rare and wonderful treat, but rare is the operative word here: there are just 10 cases left of this historic wine. Once it’s gone, that’s it, so do not hesitate to pounce.

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, to the point where we are offering the last 10 cases of the glorious 1995 today.

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 30 years of age, a very gentle decant of 30-60 minutes 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. 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!

1995 Taken From Granite, Cabernet Sauvignon "Renaissance Vineyard"

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