Tuesday, April 20, 2021

White Wines Of The Earth


With Earth Day approaching, it would be remiss of me to not tap out a few words about a collection of "wines of the earth," from Bonny Doon Vineyards.

Bonny Doon winemaking partner Randall Grahm said in an email blast that the year 2020 was an "annus horribilis" for most of us, and that includes winemakers.  He notes that the "Biblical plagues of Smoke, Covid-19, Social Isolation and somewhat more prosaically, Business (and Life) Interruption" appear to be getting smaller in the rear-view mirror, which we hope is not just a trick of the light.

In the spirit of getting back to business, Graham and his new partners at WarRoom Ventures sent over a collection of their current releases for my opinions.  Graham says that production winemaker Nicole Walsh "was very clever and proactive in dealing with any suspected smoke taint issues before they could eventuate.  Skill, yes, but luck played a part, too."

Bonny Doon Vineyards Picpoul, Monterey County, Beeswax Vineyard 2020

Picpoul means "lip stinger" when translated from the French, as pictured on this wine's label.  The promise of a tingling acidity is delivered in full, making this one of the food-friendliest wines you'll find.  Try it with oysters on the half shell or cold crab claws for a real treat.

Graham heralds his 2020 Picpoul as coming, once again, from the "redoubtable Beeswax Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco appellation of Monterey County."  He says the white wine is "definitely super-savory, nay almost waxy/salty, perhaps even a bit more unctuous than in vintages heretofore."  He also likes the floral notes, which he says are often missing from Old World versions of Picpoul.  1800 cases were produced, with alcohol at 12.5% abv and the retail price of $15.

This wine is tinted light yellow and puts up a magnificent nose which is driven by citrus and salinity.  I don't get much of the floral note mentioned by Grahm, but there is a waxy or soapy element in the package of aromas.  The palate seems a bit heavier, oilier than bygone vintages, and the salinity comes across in the mouth as well as the nose.  Meyer lemon flavors are abundant, and while the acidity may not actually sting the lips, it is nice and racy and it awaits some crab cakes or grilled calamari.

Bonny Doon Vineyards Le Cigare Blanc 2020

The white version of the winery;s flagship "Cigare" line is the 2020 Le Cigare Blanc.  This wine underwent a radical change in the previous vintage and is now made from 60% Grenache Blanc grapes, 32% Vermentino and 8% Clairette Blanche.  Graham explains that it's the Vermentino which now leaves its mark most noticeably and the Clairette Blanche which sustains its length.  "Dusky, almost mentholated, doonright balsamic, in fact; it is an aromatic riot" of a wine which also sports a creamy texture.  

Bonny Doon made 5,200 cases of the 2020 Le Cigare Blanc, which carries alcohol at 13.5% abv and a retail sticker at $15.

The wine does indeed have quite the nose, with Meyer lemon, minerals and a fine salinity to its credit.  The palate brings a saline sensibility to the stone fruit and minerality, and the mouthfeel is fairly hefty - especially for a white wine.  The finish keeps the minerals in mind, with a hint of apricot

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment