Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare is made from 57% Grenache, 18% Grenache Blanc, 9% Mourvèdre, 6% Roussanne, 5% Carignane, 5% Cinsaut
This wine is quite emblematic of the great sea change that has occurred at Bonny Doon Vineyard since the sell-off/ draw-down of the Ginormous Doonamath, whereby we have essayed a most sincere effort to make “quieter” wines in a more natural, less manipulated fashion. As such, this Vin Gris is made from bespoke grapes and is not a byproduct of red wine production, per se. We harvested at the appropriate ripeness level for its style. The essential principle here is that less is truly more. The wine does not overwhelm one with fruitybombasticity; it’s charms are seductively subtle. An extremely elegant and complex Vin Gris de Cigare.
The Vin Gris is a return to form from recent vintages, and a true expression of a proper Vin Gris, which is to say a pale pink wine made with the scantest skin contact. As a result, the wine is somewhat lighter and more delicate on the palate with minimal astringency and perhaps more of a floral aspect than doonright fruitiness. The perfume of this wine is subtle, haunting, not vulgar or tawdry, like some of the louche rosés de la nuit. Enfin, this wine is all about elegance and restraint. Rosehips, cassis, fraises de bois, citrus rind, with a wonderfully austere stony finish.
The wine does not overwhelm one with fruity-bombasticity; it’s charms are seductively subtle. An extremely elegant and complex Vin Gris de Cigare.
The Grenache for our Vin Gris came from bespoke sections of the Alta Loma Vineyard, harvested at the appropriate maturity level for this elegant style of wine. About 24% of the wine is composed of traditional white Rhône varieties in substantial part from the Beeswax Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco district of Monterey, adding a surprising richness and foundation. We also employed the practice of postfermentation bâtonnage—the stirring or re-suspension of yeast lees—to give the wine a certain creaminess of texture.
Varietal Blend: 57% Grenache, 18% Grenache Blanc, 9% Mourvèdre, 6% Roussanne, 5% Carignane, 5% Cinsaut.
Appellation: Central Coast
Vineyards: 41% Alta Loma, 13% Beeswax, 11% Bokisch Ranch, 8% JD Farming, 6% San Miguel, 7% Cass, 5% Gonsalves, 4% Scheid, 3% Wente, 1% Rancho Solo, 1% Ventan
Alcohol by Volume: 13.2%
TA: 4.5 g/L
This wine just begs for oysters or stone crab.
Bonny Doon Clos de Gilroy is made from 88% Grenache and 12% Mourvedre.
For a long time Randall Grahm went to bed aïoli, clovèd in nothing but the barest essential oils. The Wine Formerly Known as Clos de Gilroy (TWFKaCdG) pays homage to the quaint, rustic town of Gilroy, the spiritual locus of all matters alliaceous. However, note well, the fruit for this wine does not, despite its name, derive from Gilroy, but instead primarily from the vivaciously scented Alta Loma vineyard in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County, accompanied by equally expressive Grenache from Rancho Solo, located just outside the wind-swept, tumble-weeded town of Soledad. (Il faut souffrir.) Grenache is really the star of the show, and it exhibits all the hallmarks of exceptional coolth—bright raspberries, red fruit, esp. black currant, with a strong suggestion of black pepper and mint, a whiff of dark earth, and a supple, lingering finish.
Bonny Doon Vineyard aims for weapons-grade fruit from their sundry Grenache vineyards, with the intent of producing killer Cigare, but sometimes they end up Clos (but no Cigare). A somewhat more elegant Clos de Gilroy than one has typically seen in years past, this wine has the elegance of a Proustian madeleine, and supports the notion that Grenache is the stylistic analogue (writ South) of Burgundian Pinot noir. This wine is exceptionally spicy, peppery and perfumed, and pairs exceptionally well with a range of dishes, not the least being peppered ahi tuna steak. Best served with a slight chill, especially as the weather warms up.
Bonny Doon Vineyard’s winemaking practice is exceptionally light-handed, with minimal intervention and manipulation. The 2017 Clos de Gilroy was created from grapes deriving from three cool climate Monterey County vineyards as well as one warmer (but older and wiser) side in Contra Costa. The fruit was hand-sorted, gently destemmed, and cold soaked to enhance flavor and persistence.
Varietal Blend: 88% Grenache, 12% Mourvedre.
Vineyards: 34% Alta Loma, 39% Rancho Solo, 15% Ventana, 12% Del Barba
Appellation: Monterey County
Alcohol by Volume: 13.6%
TA: 5.5 g/L
Production: 2,425 cases
Serving Temperature: 53-55º F
Optimal Drinkability: Drinkable upon release, 5+ years ageability
Pairs exceptionally well with a range of dishes, not the least being peppered ahi tuna steak. Best served with a slight chill, especially as the weather warms up.
Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant Cuvee Oumuamua is made from 52% Grenache, 35% Cinsault, 13% Syrah.
As our story unfolds, we learn that with the 2018 vintage, there has been a fundamental change in the style of Le Cigare Volant. Not that there was anything at all “wrong” with the thirty-four vintages preceding the current one, mind you. For a number of reasons, mostly, alas, drearily fiscal/economical, the older style of Cigare has unfortunately proven to be a not particularly sustainable proposition at least from a financial perspective. The “new” Cigare, with a re-adjustment of the encépagement, by which we have dropped Mourvèdre from the mix and elevated the percentage of the (greatly underappreciated) and quite brilliant variety, Cinsault, creates a style of wine far more approachable and seductive in its youth.
We call this cuvée, “Oumuamua,” (or “scout” in Hawaiian), so named in light of the recent mysterious cigar-shaped object/visitor to our solar system, initially imagined to be some sort of asteroid, but believed by none other than the chairman of the Astronomy Dept. at Harvard University to possibly be a sort of probe, perhaps a solar-powered light-sail, sent on a kind of reconnaissance mission to check us out. (Ok, this last part is a bit of interpolation.) Anyhoo, it has been agreed that this was a very, very strange object that recently came to visit. And it appears that it may have arrived in the very nick of time, to bring a sort of much-needed revitalization to our planet, and by metaphoric extension, to the Cigare brand itself.
The color is a deep, vivid violet-red, owing in part to the lower pH of the wine. On the nose, the wine has a haunting kirsch nose (I suspect that’s the Cinsault), along with associated small red fruit (red and black currant) and perhaps a suggestion of blackberry. My colleague, Nicole Walsh and I toil away at the Cigare blend every year, and while the blend will change (sometimes radically, as it has this year), we share an idea of the Platonic form of Cigare, and the ‘17 certainly embodies that form. It goes something like this: Juiciness, fruit (but not confected or overripe), brightness, exuberance, joy, and not least, a sense of savoriness. I realize I’m not speaking orthodox wine parlance. We look above all for balance and for liveliness, for vinous qi. This wine is still incredibly young and just wants to jump out of its shoes.
INEYARD | PRODUCTION NOTES
The Alta Loma Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco area of Monterey County, was planted years back to one of the earlier selections of Tablas Creek Grenache clones, typically not a great selection for imparting real backbone or structure to the wine, but capable of making a wine that is enormously pretty and fragrant; in cool years, the fragrance of cassis or black currant is almost overpowering; most surprisingly, the Grenache in cool years from this vineyard is profoundly black in color. The Cinsault was sourced from the Loma del Rio Vineyard, a vineyard, under a previous nom de guerre (San Bernabe), we know quite well. This was the first year of production for the Cinsault and it was thinned multiple times both for enhanced concentration and evenness of ripening. The cooler climate gives the Cinsault a wonderful articulation of flavor, but what is most noteworthy is the fact that we were able to coferment the Cinsault with Syrah from the equally cool Mesa Verde Vyd. in the Santa Ynez Valley. Something magical happens when Syrah and Cinsault marry; the healthy tannin titer from the Syrah seems to give more structure to the Cinsault, helps to stabilize the color, and in general, insures that the blend will not evanesce tout de suite into the aetherial plane. The spicy, licorice component from the Syrah is a perfect foil to the Griotte cherry derived from the Cinsault.
Appellation: Monterey County
Vineyards: 48% Alta Loma, 35% Loma Del Rio, 6% Mesa Verde, 6% Zayante, 4% Rancho Solo 1% Lieff
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
TA: 6.1 g/L
Production: 11,500 cases
Cellaring: Drinkable upon release (6/19) with ageability of 7-10 years
Bonny Doon Old Telegram Mourvedre is made from 100 percent 100% Mourvedre.
Like the Rhone classic, it is produced from grapes which the label identifies as Mataro, an alias under which thick-skinned, late-ripening Mourvedre sometimes goes. From the nose, one scents licorice, blood(!) (make that very rare meat), blackberries (both berry and leaf), wet earth. There is a definite scent of beef bouillon, one of the absolute true signifiers of (proper) Mourvèdre. On the palate, the tannins are very plush and soft, almost a sense of sweetness (emphatically no R.S. in this), but with a really vibrant acidity and very great length. We somehow skirted the peril of over- ripeness and raisination, which is always a bit of a peril in the sunny climes of Antioch, CA. The wine is rich but also quite elegant at the same time.
Pairs with Wine-braised lamb shanks with herbes de Provence. Enoki mushroom tempura with soy-based dipping sauce. Hoisin-marinated chicken breasts served with wild & brown rice medley. Wild mushroom & thyme pizza. Pork shoulder. Beef short ribs.
Ayni Vino de Parcella Gravas is 100% Malbec
Ayni Gravas was created show the diversity of wine profiles that can be derived from Paraje Altamira’s terroir. The goal with this particular wine is to show a markedly calcareous profile that derives in a more intense black fruit flavor profile and a chalky tannin structure with great age potential, as opposed to the more feminine and elegant style which is typical from Paraje Altamira wines.
Chakana plans to further develop this wine, increasing its accents through vineyard selection and oak aging. Over time, production can potentially increase to 10,000 bottles (maximum).
Ayni Gravas is produced from smaller plots of a 20 hectare vineyard in Paraje Altamira, Valle de Uco, Mendoza. Paraje Altamira is a Geographical Indication (IG) located on the alluvial cone of the Tunuyan River. The Ayni vineyard has been planted on virgin soils on the upper (south western) side of the cone. The vineyard is crossed by numerous smaller river beds that once formed the river delta, and these create a pattern of different soil depths and gravel formations, imparting very different characteristics on the wine. Ayni Gravas is produced only with the sections of the vineyard where the calcium carbonated gravels come to the surface and the vines grow amongst them with no soil. Only a smaller percentage of the vineyard (approximately 20%) features these conditions.
Pairs well with grilled meats and stews.
"Dark medium ruby. Enticing violet lift to the aromas of boysenberry, blackberry and licorice; wild but not excessively so. Juicy and fine-grained, with penetrating chalky minerality enlivening the flavors of crushed blackberry, flowers and spices. In a very savory, almost salty style, finishing dry and firm, with fresh, fine-grained tannins and lovely energy and length. (just 12.5% alcohol; from the same vineyard as the Ayni Vineyard Paraje Altamira but from a selection of soils) - Stephen Tanzer"
- Antonio Galloni's Vinous (June 2019), 91 pts
"There is a new 2017 Ayni Parcela Gravas, a selection of Malbec from their Ayni vineyard in Paraje Altamira from very shallow plots with a high content of limestone. The nature of the soils might have resulted in some stress in a warm and dry year like 2017, and the wine felt a bit ripe and with harsher tannins than the regular Ayni. For the rest, the production and élevage remained more or less the same. I look forward to seeing the results in a cooler year. For now, the tannins need a little bit of time in bottle. 3,000 bottles were filled in March 2019. - Luis Gutiérrez"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #245, October 2019), 91 pts
The original and flagship wine for GAMBA Vineyards and Winery from our family Estate Vineyard in the Russian River Valley planted in 1900.
Tasting Notes: Deep garnet in color with a cherry preserve nose, highlighted by red plum and dried cranberry, this wine promises a classic expression of Zinfandel on the palate. Beginning with an appealing mix of spicy berry aromas and flavors, the wine expands into medium to full bodied ripe briary fruit of plum, black cherry, earth minerals, and white pepper.
The texture is silky smooth, with elegant tannins, integrated with a subtle brown spice. The long cherry kirsch-filled finish is punctuated by firm but gentle tannins. With ample acidity, the balanced framework, effusive fruit, and a smooth lingering finish, this wine will drink wonderfully for several years to come.
It has been a number of years since the very last “Vin de Glacière,” a wine that was enormously successful for Bonny Doon Vineyard in the day. After Randall Grahm sold off the large brands, he had resolved to commit Bonny Doon to wines made in a far less interventionist or “inflected” manner. So much for quixotic aspiration. (They’re still getting calls to bring back the Vin de Glacière.) Perhaps someday they will enjoy naturally occurring botrytis in the Popelouchum vineyard and be capable of making “natural” dessert wines. But, the opportunity to make a dessert wine from the Viognier they were offered this year in this instance was quite compelling, and while the methodology for its production is not historically accurate, the sweet style of Viognier does have an historical precedent.
On the nose, you will find the subtle suggestion of white flower, Mirabelle plum, as well as the honeyed character of apricot and an unnamed highly exotic tropical fruit. These flavors carry through to the palate, coupled with further elements of citrus peel and clove. While reasonably sweet (165 g. of residual sugar), the wine is not at all cloying in virtue of its impeccable acidity. The wine will of course work exceptionally well as a dessert wine, especially paired with fruit desserts, but for sublime elegance, consider it as an apéritif with foie gras, or if you’re averse to that concept, perhaps a rich trout mousse.
We were somewhat overdoon for a dessert wine in our line-up, and the Viognier grapes from Camp Four Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley were an excellent choice for this style.
Naturally high in sugar as well naturally high in acid, we subjected the juice to cryoextraction, i.e. froze the grape must and separated the sweeter juice from the remaining ice, a slightly different methodology than what we deployed when making our “wines of the ice-box", lo so many years ago.
Appellation: Santa Ynez Valley
Alcohol by Volume: 11.4%
Sugar Post-Freezing: 34° brix
TA: 8.5 g/L
Production: 679 cases
Apricot clafoutis with almonds. Creme brulee. Peach cobbler. Mirabelle plum tart. Pineapple upside down cake. Blue cheese, such as Pt. Reyes or Rogue River Blue (with stone fruit preserves wouldn’t hurt).
Terra Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon Importers Reserve 2012 is 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.
The color is a deep red. The nose is lifted with delightful floral notes of wild roses. In addition the nose also shows characters of currants, green beans and roasted capsicum. the palate has intense blackcurrant fruit complimented by coffee, nutmeg and dried herbs. The palate is medium bodied with sweet berry fruits right through to the finish. The seamless tannins are soft and silky, adding further complexity to this well balanced wine.
Drink this one over the next 5 to 7 years.
Ponzac Maintenant ou Jamais Cahors is made from 100 percent Malbec.
A deep red color, lots of red fruit aromas on the nose with hints of plum. On the palate, it is smooth with blackcurrant flavors, rounded tannins and just a touch of acidity.
Excelent as an aperitif or paired with cheese, cooked and grilled meat.