Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bonny Doon's Great Twist On Albariño: Bubbles

When you want a fresh look at a wine style, or a grape, Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz can usually supply you with something of great interest. Randall Grahm's Sparkling Albariño 2010, Central Coast is a fantastic change of pace.

This fun - but complex - sparkler is made entirely from Central Coast Albariño grapes, 84% of which came from Jespersen Vineyard south of Paso Robles and 16% from Monterey County vineyard Rancho Solo. The traditional secondary fermentation that occurs in the bottle gives great bubbles - which dissipate rather quickly - but it is the 14 months of aging in contact with the yeast cells that brings the creamy aspect to the wine. At 12.5% abv, it’s light enough so you can enjoy a little extra. The wine retails for $36. Plus, how often do you get the chance to have a five-year-old Albariño?

Opening this bubbly is a little tricky. It comes under a bottle cap, not a cork, so you can't control the speed of the opening as with a more traditional closure. The Bonny Doon website notes that “the Sparkling Albariño is quite effervescent, so please use caution and patience when opening!” I worked my way around the cap, opening one crimp at a time, and lost very little of the contents.

The wine’s golden color shows its aging, and the nose shows the yeast. This is a powerfully yeasty wine, but the aroma of apricots and citrus is unmistakable. There is a faint layer of burnt caramel, and I also get a vegetal note that’s hard to pin down; maybe it’s peas, maybe okra. Whatever it is, it adds a dimension to an already complex aroma profile. On the palate, this wine is a lot drier than I expected it to be. Big lime notes join the Beauty-and-the-Yeast palate with a decent level of acidity and a big finish that hangs around a good long while.

Pairing with Korean barbecue is Grahm’s suggestion, and it’s an admirable one. I like it with sourdough bread and olive oil. Cashews pair well, too. I usually like wedding cake with sparkling wine - it goes so well with brut that I figure that’s why bubbly is served at so many nuptials. The extreme yeastiness of this one would not be a hit with the cake's icing, I fear. It was pretty good with a slice of cinnamon raisin bread, though.