Showing posts with label Abundance Vineyards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abundance Vineyards. Show all posts

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bonny Doon Vineyard A Proper Claret 2012

Bonny Doon Vineyard has been "a strictly Cabernet-free zone for the past 28 years,"  so it may come as a bit of a surprise to find Rhône-loving winemaker Randall Grahm harvesting Bordeaux varieties.  The last Claret - the British term for red Bordeaux - produced by Grahm was in 1985, and it was made from grapes grown at the late estate in Bonny Doon.

Why a Claret now?  Grahm notes, "the deal was doon grudgingly and harumphingly."  Those who know Grahm's prose will see this as the shrewd marketing that it is.  He implies that this Cabernet-based wine is the only such that ever crosses his lips, although that may or may not be true.  He wraps up the promo sheet with, "Proper (!?!) Claret.  Indeed."

The promotional information is actually attributed to one Reginald ffrench-Postalthwaite, who I take to be an alter ego of the illustrious Mr. Grahm.  It is a mark of the super-intelligent to always have a couple of extra egos lying around the house.  This one, if that is him pictured in the Bascove label art, wears a monocle, a smoking jacket and some brightly colored thigh-high hosiery attached to a garter belt.  Proper alter ego, indeed.

The less lurid side of the label explains the need for A Proper Claret.  “A Proper Claret brings order and focus to a meal as well as to a world that is in constant danger of, dare I say, changing," writes the alter ego.  "In conclusion, it is likely that it is only A Proper Claret that will keep the barbarous hordes at bay, and allow Civilization a modest prospect of some undoubtedly short-term continuity.”

Mr. ffrench-Postalthwaite’s pairing suggestions include, "proper (British) mutton and proper leg of lamb (ideally served with proper Yorkshire pudding).”  I sipped the contents of my promotional bottle with bangers and mash.

A Proper Claret 2012 contains 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petit Verdot, 8% Tannat, 7% Syrah and 1% Petite Sirah.  Alcohol hits a very reasonable 13.2% abv.  7,000 cases were made and they retail for $16 per bottle - a very proper price point.

Grahm - er, Reginald - says the  presence of Petit Verdot adds "silky violets and textural elegance, in precision counterpoint to the lead-in-the-pencil firmness of the manly Tannat."

The deep purple wine gives a spicy nose marked with cigar tobacco and eucalyptus.  Dark red fruit - plums and raspberries - provide the backdrop for all those fireworks.  The acidity is very nice and the tannins do their work without getting in the way.  The palate is dark and a bit savory, but the fruit is in full bloom.  I'm thinking about that leg of lamb, now.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010


Abundance Vineyards

Recently at the California Wine Festival in Santa Barbara, I had the opportunity to taste the wines of Lodi's Abundance Vineyards.  I wasn't familiar with them before the festival's grand tasting event, but I was quite impressed with the product I sampled.
Farming Lodi soil since 1951, the Mencarini family has focused on wine grapes since 1961.  The outfit is spearheaded by third-generation brothers Dino and Ron Mencarini.  All their wines are estate grown and produced.  Dino states his family's vision clearly: " give the average working person a high-quality wine for an affordable price."  It's a noble endeavor, if you ask me, and it seems they are checking off both concerns nicely.  Nearly all the family's wines are award-winners, and nearly the whole list comes in at under $20 per bottle.  Even the winery itself is an award-winner: Visit Lodi named Abundance the winery of the year for 2010.
Wine is in their blood, and judging from the juice I tasted in Santa Barbara, it's an understatement to hear Dino say, "I have a passion for it."  The very first of their wines I tried opened my eyes.
The 2007 Bountiful Blanc is 65% Symphony grapes and 35% Sauvignon Blanc.  I'm not a big fan of the Symphony grape, and the pretty floral nose I encounted in this wine - although quite lovely - did nothing to convince me that things were about to change.  However, the Sauvignon Blanc really takes over on the palate and helps deliver a wine that is substantially more than just a sipper.
The Abundance Reds also came as a bit of a surprise.  They are mouth-puckeringly dry while still maintaining a big fruit profile and a chewy complexity.
Their 2007 Merlot has 15% Zinfandel in the mix.  Zin plays at least a minor role in many of the Abundance red wines.  Spicy cedar notes grace the nose while smoke and earth are all over the palate.  The wine spends 17 months in French and American oak.
The 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel was one of my favorites not just on the Abundance table, but on any table at this tasting event.  Dark, earthy raspberry dominates the palate of this very dry wine.  The “old” fruit is 110 years old here.  The “young” grapes are from 60 year-old vines.  This award winner is 85% Zinfandel.  Judging from the age of the vines, I would imagine the remainder is a melange of field blend grapes.  This one sees 19 months in French and American oak.
Another one that really captured my fancy was the ‘05 Abundantly Rich Red.  This blend is 45% Carignane, 40% Zinfandel and the rest Petite Sirah and Syrah.  With 17 months in French and  American oak, there’s a campfire nose to match a big, blackberry taste.  Dark and earthy, it’s loaded with a strong mineral profile.
The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon has a curve thrown into it - even the Cab has 15% Zinfandel in the blend.  It’s really a different take on Cabernet.  Earthy in the extreme, very, very dry and showing the influence of 19 months in those French and American oak barrels, this wine has surprisingly good fruit from the dry, sandy soil of Lodi.
The ‘05 Petite Sirah also carries some Zinfandel, but only 8%.  Dark fruit on the nose meets cherry, blackberry and plum on the palate.
One delightful wine after another left me thinking that surely the other shoe had to drop at some point.  The 2008 Bacio Dolce Carignane Dessert Wine. was the final taste, and it was a winner, too.  A 100% varietal wine, they call this sweet drink “user friendly.”  I would imagine it would be difficult to find a user who could find this one unfriendly.  Plum notes abound in a setting which makes it easy to see why they named it the “sweet kiss.”  At 19.5% abv, it’s a hefty drink, to be sure, but it was a fitting end to the day’s best tasting.
Abundance Lodi VineyardAs I was finishing up at the Abundance tasting table, Dino was effortlessly entertaining all who appeared.  Looking every bit the farmer he has been much of his life, he laughed and talked easily about his wines.  When a camera crew strolled up to interview him and shoot some video, he just as effortlessly shifted gears and launched into his ready-for-prime-time TV persona.  His wines may be able to speak for themselves, but as long as Dino Mencarini is around, they will never have to face the crowd alone.