2004 Scholium Project Sandland Duarte Vineyard

Having enjoyed a lot of Abe’s wines over the past two decades now I’d never get to Scholium Project if drinking this blind. Red-fruited, all elegance and refinement now, nose is aged wine and the finish very slightly sour.

Good for 1-2 hours after uncorking, I would only decant this for sediment if I had four aficionados ready for a beginning red. This is a light attack, there are many white wines bulkier and heavier than this mix of CoCo Carignane & Mourvèdre. Cépage unknown to me, or long forgotten.

I could not find a note here for this apex California wine, likely just past its pinnacle now.


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Nice work buddy! Reminds me I need to check in on an 04 Babylon that you hooked up from that crazy sale . Still has to be one of the best wine deals I’ve ever seen!

Cheers man - hope you’re well!

I poured a last glass into a 1/2 bottle decanter and tried this ~ four hours after uncorking. Wine had gained heft, tannin, and heat.

Still really delicious but more SP than the wine was initially after being opened to air.


I am late reading your tasting note of this wine.

The Scholium Project website features a bit of information on its past bottlings, including this one from one of Joe Duarte’s Contra Costa plantings.

2004 “Sandlands”

"This was the first of many wines that Tegan Passalacqua has led us—literally, led us—to produce. He knows the old vine vineyards of California better than anybody that I know. He introduced me to Joe Duarte late in the summer of 2004 and so brought us to Joe’s amazing old Carignane and Mourvèdre vines that have been growing for a hundred years in the deep sand of Contra Costa county.

"We harvested the grapes at the same time, bled them pretty thoroughly at the instigation of Christopher Vandendriessche, co-fermented them in punchdown, and put the resulting wine in barrel for 18 months. We hoped for the onset of brettanomyces, but never found it; allowed the wines to mature without topping or sulfur, and finally bottled a very flavorful wine that only began showing its virtues years after bottling.

“75 cases produced.”

Scholium Wines website:

“Wine Library”

I know some winemakers seek to have brettanomyces in their wines but I don’t get it. Why? Many have posited that brett is present in most wineries but why try to encourage it?

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This is a good question, and because I recently had a Scholium wine that was undrinkable bretty (Golgotha 2013), the idea that they want to encourage brettiness makes me nervous. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that brettanomyces is responsible for the ‘sauvage’ character that many people find attractive in the wines of the northern Rhone.

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