Friday, March 15, 2013

Bonny Doon Wine With The Grapes Of Italy And Spain


Winemaking is a tough enough profession, but a winemaker who can make world-class puns at the drop of a hat while doing the Sunday New York Times crossword and microblogging on Twitter is a man to be admired.

Besides the Rhône-varietal wines Randall Grahm is known for, he also likes to dabble in some other grape nationalities, too.  He has done some interesting things with Riesling, and the two wines featured here show his work with Spanish and Italian grape varieties grown in the Bonny Doon Ca’ del Solo estate vineyard.  They were provided to me for review.


Bonny Doon Nebbiolo 2009

Grahm’s love affair with the grape of Barolo has either come to an end or reached a hiatus, as far as growing it is concerned.  The ‘09 vintage of Bonny Doon Nebbiolo is the last from the biodynamic Ca’ del Solo Vineyard in Monterey - at least for a while.

Grahm thinks Nebbiolo is “one of the true genius grape varieties."  He says, "there is a remarkable soulfulness to the best examples of the variety, and this particular one, I submit, stands among the very best.”

In previous vintages, Grahm's Nebbiolo grapes were partially air-dried to concentrate ripeness. He says the finale year for the vineyard provided a warmer growing season, so air-drying was not employed.  All the grapes used here are estate-grown Nebbiolo.  Alcohol kicks in at 14.4% abv, and only 508 cases were made, for Bonny Doon’s DEWN wine club members.  Sealed under a screwcap, it goes for $45.

The wine has a medium-dark tint in the glass and smells quite brightly of red plums and blueberries.  The fairly noticeable whiff of a fresh pack of Kools - my dad’s brand when I was growing up - provides an interesting angle to the bouquet.  On the palate, a youthful fruit expression is up front when first poured.  Then, over the course of an evening, its mood turns darker and a bit more savory.  With so much going on, it’s a great wine to contemplate.  It’s also a great wine to accompany a meal.  The tannins are firm enough for your grandma’s meatballs, but not at all harsh.


Bonny Doon Sparkling Albariño, Central Coast 2010

This 100% Albariño sparkler uses grapes from Jespersen Vineyard (84%) and Ca’ del Solo (16%.)  It comes under a crown cap closure, requiring a churchkey like a beer or soda might.  You should remove the cap very slowly, since the contents are under pressure and the bubbles like to free themselves quickly when they have the chance.  Alcohol content is quite low - 12.5% abv - and only 617 cases were produced.  It’s also available only to Bonny Doon’s wine club members.

Those bubbles - when they are freed - are quite large on top of the pale golden liquid.  The nose smells a bit of toast, but more of fruit.  A zesty lemon-lime component frames the aroma of peaches quite nicely.  The refreshing acidity is a delight, and flavors of citrus linger on the finish.  Grahm suggests you try this with Korean barbecue, and that’s a great idea.  It should also make a nice pairing with any number of other dishes, or sipped on its own as a toasting vehicle.  $32


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