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Clos Saron Sierra Foothills Syrah Stone Soup 2016

Red Wine from California, United States

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In some vintages this is amongst my favorite Syrah the world over and 2016 is perhaps the best so far. While being wholly unique, this wine has that raw wild energy you only find in the terraces of Cotie Rotie and Cornas. This wine rewards the patient but of all the Stone Soups I’ve had this is easily the most generous upon release. The stoniness is immediately apparent on the nose with notes of crushed rock and iron, followed by stewed plum, dried herbs, and candied violets. The palate is rich with chewy tannins, just beginning to soften with age, and earthy, savory notes that are lifted by the floral tones from that touch of Viognier. Beautiful now but a proper cellaring will reward the patient. This will age beautifully for decades.

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The Sierra Foothills are finally getting the recognition they deserve and that in no small part to the decades long work of Gideon Beinstock. Clos Saron, the winery he founded with his wife Saron Rice, produces unique, complex and age-worthy wines that are at the pinnacle of what California can do. He has dedicated himself to his adopted terroir, gaining a deep knowledge of each site he works with down to the vagaries of individual vines. His wines transparently reflect this, each as idiosyncratic as the man that makes them.

A childhood in Israel with his formative years spent as an artist in Paris, it was Gideon’s interest in the philosophical teaching of a Northern California agro-cult, The Fellowship of Friends, that eventually led him to the Foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.He eventually became the cult’s winemaker where he gained a deep appreciation for this land and a lot of recognition for their Renaissance Winery.

When Gideon decided to leave the fellowship, he didn't go too far. Years before, he’d decided to dedicate his talents and intelligence, not just to winemaking but particularly to the terroir of the North Yuba Foothills. The winery is located just down the road from the Apollo settlement, the Fellowship’s Atlantis-like compound and the location of the Renaissance vineyards.

Gideon owns a small vineyard in front of his home from which he produces a tiny amount of Pinot Noir. He also farms leased plots in and around Oregon House. The vineyards are densely planted, about 2,500 vines per acre, and are dry farmed wherever possible. The resulting yields are very low, from below one ton per acre and maxing out around two. Because their area is free of phylloxera, their vines are all “own-rooted” and some are over thirty-five years old. He also farms Cinsault and Carignane from the Bechtold Vineyard in Lodi where the vines are well over a hundred years old.

The grapes are harvested in repeated passes through the vines, from three to eight times, picking only clusters as they begin to soften, to determine perfect ripeness. They are then foot-stomped in open-top bins allowing the vineyards' indigenous yeasts to conduct the fermentation. For the blends, the grape varieties are all co-fermented as Gideon believes the results are better integrated. The wines are then aged on lees in five to twenty five year old French oak barrels for as long as he feels is needed before being bottled, unfined and unfiltered, with minimal use of sulfites.

The results are nothing less than spectacular; wines that are deeply concentrated and complex yet never heavy. They are bottled and released only when Gideon thinks they are ready for showtime. Their inherent complexity only increases with time but even after decades in the cellar, Gideon’s wines retain radiant energy and tension, hallmarks of the world's best wines.


  • Grape Variety


  • Vintage


  • Size


  • Farming Practice


  • Style

    Earthy , Fruity , Minerally

  • Sweetness


  • Body

    Full Bodied