Monday, November 28, 2016

"Oldfangled" Wine

Bonny Doon's winemaker and guiding light Randall Grahm talks a lot about the "life force" of a wine, and about how his winemaking style seeks that quality. He calls his style an "oldfangled, unaffected manner" which eschews overripe fruit and the resulting high alcohol. His wines tend toward the "savory" side of the wine-o-meter. His wines don't shout from the hillsides about their time in oak. His wines allow the grapes to be the speaker, not the barrel, not the man.

Grahm writes that the Bonny Doon 2014 Grenache that he calls Cuvée R is made from grapes that are actually a "very special clone" from the Château Rayas vineyard in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. These grapes were grown in his former estate vineyard, Ca' del Solo, now known as Rancho Solo Vineyard in Soledad.  He notes that "Soledad is not the easiest place to grow grapes," yet he feels that Cuvée R shows the "great potential of Grenache to produce wines of real elegance in the Central Coast." Grahm is now growing the same Grenache clone at an Estate vineyard in San Benito County, "with the greatest expectations."

This wine sells for $48, and only 270 cases were produced. Alcohol sits at the customary Calfornia setting of 14.5% abv.

Cuvée R is medium-dark in the glass and has those great savory nose notes that Grahm seems to pack into every bottle of wine he makes. Leather, black olives and smoke are the first to escape. The palate stays on Savory Street with a big olive play on the dark fruit. Acidity is positively mouth-watering and the tannic structure is quite firm. Pair it with pork or fowl easily. I had mine with an honest-to-god Pennsylvania nut roll and almost hallucinated. It was that good.