Monday, October 21, 2013

Bonny Doon Muscat Vin de Glacière 2005

Besides being one of the all-around champion Rhone Rangers, Bonny Doon Vineyards’ president-for-life Randall Grahm dabbles in other grapes, too.  If Old McDonald had a vineyard, it would feature a Bordeaux here, a Spanish variety there, here a Rhone, there a Rhone, etc.  It would even feature some nice California Muscat.

I ran across this one, at large for several years among my belongings.  The Bonny Doon Muscat Vin de Glacière 2005 actually sports 98% Muscat Canelli, with a dash each of Muscat Giallo and Viognier.  The dessert wine only hits 11.5% abv, but the residual sugar is stratospheric at 17.2%.

Ice wine is typically produced, where nature allows, by harvesting frozen grapes and pressing them.  Frozen sugar melts faster than plain, ol’ ice, so you get those high RS levels needed for a dessert wine.

This VdG is produced from post-harvest grapes, but California wine makers need some help in the freezing department, as Grahm explains.  “Because we live in temperate California, we have to cheat a little when it comes to making ‘ice wine.’  …In as much as coastal California winters do not offer [a frozen] climate, we inter the grapes in a Castroville commercial freezer for a month of deep freeze.”  After that, the long pressing process begins, leading to a long fermentation.  Grahm says the fermentation for this wine went on for seven weeks before he felt the alcohol and sugar were in balance.

The wine looks almost like bourbon - just a tad lighter in color and intensity; copper rather than brown.  The nose is raisiny, with a good whiff of alcohol despite the low content.  A very good acidity exists on the palate, with flavors of apricot and apple meeting the loveliness of sugar.  Some orange peel and a caramel note are a true delight.  Fairly viscous, the wine leaves a trail along the sides of the glass.  A little brown sugar on the finish wraps up this holiday gift nicely.