Friday, March 11, 2016

Bonny Doon: Four Rosés

Randall Grahm's touch with Rhône reds is masterful, his work with Iberian and German whites is close behind. But it’s what he does with rosé that really endears him to me.  Imagine my glee to find that Grahm is now pushing not one, but four rosé wines under the Bonny Doon banner. We will visit each of them in the coming weeks, to get you ready for rosé weather, whatever that is.

Here in Southern California we have had rosé weather since February, but don't start throwing things at us because of it. People here are actually complaining that the promised El Niño rains have been noticeably scant since the January downpours. Maybe scheduling a month of rosé will bring the cold rains that California needs so badly.

2013 Vin Gris de Tuilé  (Online Exclusive)

This rosé is a big blend of some great Rhône grapes. The name, Gris Tuilé, means "brick-colored wine," but it does not appear that way to me. This 13% abv pink wine is really just barely pink, and sort of barely orange, too. Maybe old bricks? It is cloudy in appearance and was aged outdoors for nine months in glass demijohns, or carboys, which allow for the wine to pick up some solar radiation. Uh, that means it’s exposed to light. Grahm credits the "solarization" for giving the wine such extreme complexity.  He admits that it’s not for everyone, and adds, "mais c'ést très cool, quand même." Showoff.

 I have always considered Grahm to be King in the land of Savory, and on this wine he has added a few jewels to his crown.  The grapes for this rosé are 55% Grenache, 23% Mourvèdre, 10% Roussanne, 7% Cinsaut, 3% Carignane and 2% Grenache Blanc.  Whew! Did we leave anybody out? Everybody in the carboy? Let’s go.

The nose is amazing, and if I have ever used that word to describe a nose before, let me retract that one so I can use it freely here. It’s amazing. Upon opening the bottle there is a distinct whiff of butterscotch. In the glass, that turns into more of a nutty, savory note. It is quite unusual, and quite delightful. Oh, there are some cherry and strawberry notes in there, but they are way, way down and you have to work a bit to get them. On the palate, it’s a cross between rosé and dry sherry.  A definite caramel note is a great surprise. Grahm says there is curry in there, too, but I don’t get that. I find a sort of sharpness at one point in the sip, which goes away quickly. The finish is quite long, with that note of caramel reappearing. It’s the most unusual rosé I have ever experienced.

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