1996 Clos Saron "Once Upon a Time" cabernet sauvignon

Double decanted four hours prior to a (rather lame sweet Italian sausage sandwich) dinner, this magnum threw off a tremendous amount of sediment, and was also intensely aromatic. Even standing a few feet away from the decanter, the perfume reminded me of being in a winery cellar where there were open bottles and spills galore. Cedar and very wild berries.

Gideon Beinstock is the owner/winemaker at Clos Saron, located in the Sierra Foothills, and he actually made this wine when he was winemaker at Renaissance Vineyard. Eventually Gideon set off on his own, and acquired and re-labelled some of his old bottles. (This one still had a Renaissance cork.) There is a longer story there, which I will leave for others to share if they wish. I’m not sure which of the Renaissance cabs this one was in its “past life”.

The wine is fascinating. It is 100% cab sauv, but doesn’t taste at all like Napa. The fruit is sweet and pleasurable – but with frizzy hair and unpolished nails. Nor is it like bordeaux – more garrigue than dirt. I had an overwhelming impression of raking and being surrounded by wet sticks. Provence or Tuscany, maybe? Hmmm.

The ABV is low, the finish is long, and I suspect it is barely even midlife at the age of 23.

If I didn’t know what it was, I might have guessed a 1990s Montus madiran prestige (tannat). If you like this sort of thing, it is also a great value. 92

Great note. These are excellent wines in their own distinctive way.

If I’m not mistaken, it’s grown on Granite soils, which gives it the unique character.

A magnum opened last year was great. It reminded me of a mature Montelena.

Thanks, guys. An update: I saved a nice sized glass from the mag for the next day, which I drank last night. Believe it or not, this 23-year-old wine put on considerable weight overnight. Port-like in its viscosity. Last night it reminded me somewhat of an older Dunn.

Again, just a fascinating wine. Not for the faint of palate.

For those interested, this was a small experimental lot from a section of “Slope 1” (see Ester Mobley’s article in the SF Chronicle), which later was leased to Clos Saron for our Black Pearl production and later on (yet to be released) pure Cabernet Sauvignon. This lot was only bottled in magnums and, similarly to most of our “Once Upon a Time” series, it was never released commercially under the Renaissance label. This series is focused on wines made during my Renaissance years that directly led to the production of specific Clos Saron wines later on.

I believe this wine is a decade or two away from its “full maturity”.

We still have magnums available the winery.

What a fun note!!! Makes me want to go find a bottle…or taste one of Sieber’s!

I was about to post exactly that!