Friday, March 18, 2016

Four Rosés From Bonny Doon #2

I will admit right off the bat that Randall Grahm is one of my favorite winemakers, if not right at the top of the list.  His 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. We are visiting each of them this month, to get you ready for rosé weather, whatever that is.

Bonny Doon 2015 Il Ciliegiolo Rosato 

Ciliegiolo (chee lee eh JOE low) is not a character from a spaghetti western, it’s an Italian grape variety which is either a parent of the Sangiovese grape or an offspring of it, depending on whose DNA test you believe.  It is often found, barely, in Chianti and in some wines of Umbria. 

Apparently, there are some vines in California, too, because Grahm made a rosato from this grape for his Bonny Doon label.  

Grahm writes, "While it had been our original intention to produce this wine as a red, the grapes rather distinctly expressed their preference to be pink." The wine actually looks more like a light red to me, which I suppose is why Grahm put "Rosato" on the label. He is a fan of hard-to-find, hard-to-pronounce grapes, and he believes "that there is a great future for this style of wine in California, and hope we will be able to repeat, if not improve upon this bottling."

The wine is all Ciliegiolo, all the time, and it sells for $24, exclusively to the winery’s DEWN Club members. The grapes come from Mt. Oso Vineyard, southeast of Modesto, in the Tracy Hills AVA. The alcohol sits peacefully at 12.4% abv and it’s as dry as the proverbial bone but it smells a lot better. The label features great artwork - a Bonny Doon hallmark - by Alex Gross.  Grahm made 442 cases of the beautiful stuff.  He suggests sipping it "whilst quietly pondering the great wonder of it all."

The wonder is why we haven't heard of this grape before. The nose offers strong cherry and an only slightly weaker herbal note. In the mouth, this wine drinks like a red, full and luscious with big fruit flavor, a very good acidity and more tannic structure than you probably have ever experienced in a rosé. All that is missing from this one is Grahm’s usual salinity. It’s a fruity - and completely wonderful - rosato.