Friday, March 6, 2015

Sparkling Syrah Shows Magnified Flavors And Aromas

Bonny Doon Vineyards' owner and winemaker Randall Grahm has made sparkling wine from Riesling, Albariño and Moscato grapes - not to mention his bubbly pear wine and sparkling cider crafted from apples, pears and quince.  This sparkling Syrah mines that adventurous vein further, while adding a page to his illustrious history with the Rhône grape.

The Bonny Doon Sparkling Syrah 2011 was released a little over a year ago to Bonny Doon's DEWN club members.  It is now available for $36 retail.  Grahm has high praise for it, if he does say so himself.  “It's my favorite Bonny Doon wine," notes the iconic Rhônemaster.

For the record, it is 83% Syrah from Jespersen Vineyard and 17% Grenache from Alta Loma Vineyard.   This Central Coast sparkler - effervescent, really - shows large bubbles that don't last long and carries an extremely modest alcohol content of 11.9% abv.

It is quite dark in the glass, with an expressive nose and an aggressive palate.  From the Bonny Doon website: "You love the aromas of Syrah, right? Now, get ready to smell them REAL BIG."  That's not a disclaimer, it's a billboard.   Intense aromas of the blackest berries are intertwined with the smell of Kalamata olives and roasted meat.

The palate is so heavily laced with the olive element that I am nearly convinced that I am drinking from the olive jar.  Earth comes through in abundance, as it does in Grahm's still wine Syrah efforts.  There is a note I labored over unsuccessfully, until I saw in Grahm's tasting notes that it is "spearmint Necco wafers."  Really?  This just gets better and better.

In a Twitter conversation with Grahm, he wrote that his sparkling Syrah is "similar to sparkling Shiraz but very elegant."  Grahm adds that the Bonny Doon Sparkling Syrah is "lower in alcohol, higher in acid than sparkling Shiraz; cool climate fruit, mintier than get-out."

Sparkling red wine may put one in mind of Lambrusco, but this operates on an entirely different level.  This is the sparkling red for those who feel Lambrusco just isn't enough fun.  As Grahm writes, it is "clearly a Syrah, but rendered in a way that is startlingly unexpected and just totally fun."  Expect some startling fun when you break out the church key to pop the crown cap on this bottle.