Wednesday, November 26, 2014

California Grenache: Bonny Doon Cuvée R 2012

"There is a place in our hearts for Grenache at Bonny Doon Vineyard," states the winery's new website.  "It is the misunderstood, Ugly Duckling cépage par excellence."   The Now And Zin California Grenache series threw the spotlight on this misjudged, maligned and magnificent grape.

The grapes for the Bonny Doon Grenache Cuvée R 2012 were grown in the Rancho Solo Vineyard, formerly the Ca' del Solo Vineyard in Monterey County town of Soledad.  Winemaker Randall Grahm says he has planted it at the new vineyard in San Juan Bautista. "It looks promising."  Grahm says, "This was the most impressive single batch of Grenache fruit I have ever chanced to encounter chez Doon."  And he has encountered quite a few.

If you want to get downright geeky about the grapes, Grahm reveals that the fruit for this wine was grown "from a selected clone of Grenache alleged to have originated from an extremely well-regarded, let’s rephrase that, from the most well-regarded domain in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, one known for making 100% Grenache cuvées of atypical elegance."

It retails for $48, but is only available to Bonny Doon’s DEWN Club members.   Cuvée R rocks a 14.9% abv number, so it’s a rather potent quaff.  The label art cartoon by Gary Taxali is worth at least a portion of the price.

The Cuvée R Grenache is extremely dark, with no light getting through the glass.  Upon opening, the nose was rather tight, a situation that resolves itself over time.  One sip makes it clear this is a very tasty, dark and delicious wine, but it’s not a big ol' California fruit stand.  This Grenache is dark, like the forest.  A nice level of acidity is refreshing in the mouth - but not the sort that takes your breath away - and the tannins are firm, provide a lively mate for meat.  Actually, the tannins seem to increase over the three nights I had this bottle open - quite the reverse of what I would have expected.  On the first night, the wine seemed a little dull, blunted.  On the second night it was a much livelier experience and by the third night it was brighter still.

The wine is full in the mouth and smooth as a bonus.  Not a bad choice for the holiday table.

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