Posts Tagged ‘Randall Grahm’
It’s fitting with today commencing the Weekend Celebration of American Rhones, in San Francisco, to celebrate this amazing, unique release of Cigare Blanc, the flagship Rhone white blend from Bonny Doon Vineyards.
It’s creator, Randall Grahm, tonight at a very special ceremony will be awarded the first ever Rhone Rangers lifetime achievement award. As I wrote in For The Love of Rhône: Randall Grahm Lifetime Achievement Award; A Rhône Weekend in SF the American Rhone winemakers and consumers owe Randall this, and much more.
The Re-Emergence of The Original Rhone Ranger, Pioneer’s Vision
In his spot-on keynote speech at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, (video or transcript ) Randall gently chided the wine industry, for being a victim of its own success, almost ‘selling out’ and lamenting the world of unique wines, that had some risk to making them.
‘Modern winemakers live in an era of tragic self-consciousness about the economic consequences of their winemaking decisions, utterly aware of the peril of somehow falling outside of the stylistic parameters of accepted wine styles.’
On a macro level this is sadly true. Wines, especially whites, are made risk free, manipulated, and churned out by the container load for mass market. “Flash Detente’ – seriously? I’ll go return to my beer brewing roots before I ever cross this line. Every article I read on it gives me hives – where does this end?
But there is a burgeoning new movement, a tiny but growing population of bold winemakers who return to the risk taking Randall laments, making wines of unique varieties, vinification, climates and more. (Teaser, also watch for notice for a special tasting of a gang of 13 of these upstarts in Healdsburg in May.)
These vintners of passion often selling their crafts for a modest price, keeping the approachable. Sommeliers are loving this re-birth. Some old school journalists have no clue what to do with it – why not keep just writing about Cabernet & Zinfandel. Other visionaries like Jon Bonné of the Chronicle embrace and support the change, and even has a book coming out. (You can pre-order now, I did.)
Leading By Example and Creativity – Winemaking With Risk (Equals Reward.)
Randall leads the path again (one that I follow, inspired, with my own Rhone project.) His special 2010 Cigare Blanc Reserve and 2008 Cigare Volante are aged ‘en bonbonne’ - glass carboys, protected from light and air, and stirred….magnetically. As only Randall could do.
Why? Randall was inspired by wines of Dan Wheeler tasted from carboy, and astonished by how fresh the wines were, 20 years later, followed by a similar experience with Emidio Pepe.
At the Wine Bloggers Conference, Randall held a special semi private tasting of some of his wines, including the 2010 Cigare Blanc reserve & 2008 Cigare Volant Reserve ‘en bonbonne’. The gift was lost on some, but it was a special experience to taste these the normal and en bonbonne’ side by side. There was a clear, textural and flavor difference.
It inspired me to taste them both again later several times, where I could focus without Rex Pickett of Sideways making drinking from dump bucket jokes to impress a nearby female. Not a problem as I am a DOON Club member, and regularly order, and have, including a re-order of this wine.
Review: Bonny Doon Vineyard 2010 Cigare Blanc Reserve en bonbonne
A certified biodynamic blend of 56% Grenache Blanc and 44% Rousanne. (You had me at Grenache Blanc.) As Randall’s own tasting notes concur, it continues to improve in bottle, and was changed, even more favorably from last fall.
The 2010 vintage was allowed to go through secondary malo-lactic (a personal preference for me, as I think many white wines, with sufficient acidity, should do to enhance mouth feel and complexity.)
- To The Eye: Slightly cloudy, but clearer than previous tastings. Its turbidity makes me love it even more. It’s about time the consumer world understood a tad of turbidity in whites might make it better. I will follow with less trepidation.
- On The Nose: wondrous nose of yellow pear, stone fruits, hints of white grapefruit and hazelnut.
- On The Palate: Amazing. Lush, but in a restrained way. Textural and ‘grown up’ but with a vibrant acid backbone that lingers beneath in balance. The front palate starts off bright and fresh, the mid palate shows the wondrous texture, mouth feel ripe pear, yellow peach, citrus. The finish is of ripe Meyer lemon, lingering pleasant acidity.
I have yet to figure out how Bonny Doon makes these so wonderful in flavor and low in alcohol, as Roussanne and Grenache Blanc both require proper ripening, ever for my acid addicted palate. Bravo.
A wine that while wonderful solo, would be heavenly with rich seafood, creamy pasta, or roasted chicken.
- Recommendation: This is one to buy a case and drink 1-2 bottles a year. Buy online while you can.
94 points. Yes its pricier than every day wine. Life is short, live a little.
Winemakers Notes & Geeky Stuff
I have written in various places about the inspiration to age wine in demijohns/carboys/bonbonnes. Some of it has come from my fascination with oxidation/reduction chemistry, an aspect of wine art/science not well understood and its importance greatly unappreciated. Years ago, as a young pup I tasted wine from carboy with Dan Wheeler of Nicasio Cellars in his do-it-yourself-handdug cave in Soquel, and was astonished at how youthful were the wines, twenty plus years later, almost as if they had been placed in suspended animation. At about the same time, I also happened to taste the wines from Emidio Pepe in Abruzzo, who also aged his product in demijohns, likewise evincing extraordinary youthfulness and vitality.
We did some small encouraging experiments years ago, then more or less forgot about them until relatively recently, at which point we began the carboy ageing project with red Cigare. It wasn’t until ’09 that it dooned on me that perhaps there were even more interesting things to discover with the white. The ’10 Cigare Blanc Réserve, our second vintage of this wine, is absolutely amazing, an advance over the ’09. To refresh everyone’s memory, this wine is more or less the same blend as our standard issue Cigare Blanc, apart from the fact that we’ve allowed it to undergo malolactic fermentation, and at that point, we gave it a light SO2 addition, racked it to glass demijohn (bonbonne), where it reposed for a year and a half, getting anaerobically stirred more or less fortnightly.
The wine derives entirely from the Beeswax Vineyard, located at the mouth of the Arroyo Seco, and is farmed biodynamically and produced according to biodynamic specifications (very easy on the extraneous additions).
I’ve had the pleasure of tasting this wine over the last year, and what is most remarkable about it is that every time I taste it, it gets younger and younger! The wine was not filtered, and therefore is partly cloudy, though lately, it is curiously, getting brighter and brighter. The wine has a rich, unctuous texture, despite its modest (12ish%) alcohol, as well as possesses the most satisfying savoriness. In the nose, there is a wonderful suggestion of hazelnuts (hmm, white Burgundy, anyone?), as well as a beautiful fragrance of wintergreen and a wine-like pear. A great gastronomy wine, one that will perfectly suit rich, cream-based dishes.
- Blend: 56% roussanne, 44% grenache blanc (Certified Biodynamic®)
- Vineyard: Beeswax (Certified Biodynamic®)
- Appellation: Arroyo Seco
- Serving Temp: 50-55ºF
- Alcohol by Volume: 12.4%
- TA: 6.2 g/L
- pH: 3.62
- Optimal drinkability: Drink now-2020
- Production: 497 cases
For The Love of Rhône: Randall Grahm Lifetime Achievement Award; A Rhône Weekend in SF. (And Reader Offers)
It’s no secret that if you tap one of my veins, it’s likely a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah will spring forth. My love for this wine category has caused me to change my entire life, quickly transforming, with no master plan, from avid consumer, to (once) a widely read blogger, and from garagiste to commercial vintner.
Rhône wines can be a challenging category. It’s not mainstream – your classic new world oaky Cabernet consumer perhaps can’t even describe what Rhone wines are, let alone appreciate the breadth of complex whites the category offers. “Serious” wine snobs may turn their noses as they consider they are not ‘geeky’ enough - after all its not some obscure Italian varietal, or skin fermented white wine whose name you can’t spell, fermented in an exotic container and bottled in 500 ml granite bottles. Its just ‘grenache.’
Yet many American Rhone wines ARE rare. Grenache Blanc has existed in California for only ten years, with only 220 acres planted in the entire state. The source I work with for Roussanne & Marsanne are the only known in the entire AVA. The Mourvedre is only one of two plantings. The cool climate Grenache - perhaps 3-4 at most. Even in Rhone ‘heavy’ areas like Paso Robles, the total acreage of most Rhone whites is minuscule.
On the reverse side, not all off the old guard of some media get ‘it. Respected and esteemed Chronicle wine writer, and Rhone advocate, Jon Bonné, was recently criticized publicly by a veteran wine writer for his waxing poetic on Grenache,
Yet, we not only persevere as a domestic category, we prosper and slowly grow. We are after all ‘Rhone Rangers’ both as consumers and winemakers. When everyone said pull the plug on our NY event one week after Hurricane Sandy, we turned it into a fundraiser, showed up despite many challenges, and eager enthusiasts filled the tasting, amidst a Noreaster snow storm. THIS is how we Rhone.
Be assured of one thing, domestic vintners and winemakers dedicated to Rhones, do so for passion, not money.
An Eternal Debt Of Gratitude to The Original Rhone Ranger & Special Recognition Award
With that backdrop, it’s all the more clear to me the incredible debt that all Rhone enthusiasts (and wineries) owe Randall Grahm, lauded as the original Rhone Ranger. (In truth there are a few other early pioneers. Sadly, not all support the namesake organization.)
Randall has been committed to Rhones since he released the first Cigare Volante in 1984. In a world where we take Grenache Blanc for granted, only the earliest and smallest of Rhone plantings, sometimes mis-identified, could be found, and there was little experience to reference. There were certainly easier paths to follow.
Randall has been a personal inspiration for me. He helped my find the Grenache Blanc vineyard I started with in 2010, even offered encouragement, as he does for so many, despite the often one man show that he is, tirelessly & humbly promoting, pouring, his crafts.
This year, at the Rhone Rangers March 22nd Winemaker Dinner in San Francisco, the Rhone Rangers organization will award its first lifetime achievement award. As a board member who was in the meeting when the topic came up, the unanimous decision took only as long as it did for the suggestion to be comprehended.
We can only hope that Randall recognizes the deep respect, and love that so many have for he and his efforts. Simple Hedonisms has written about Bonny Doon wines many times, and I hope to review more wines all week, in tribute.
YOU have a chance to be at the award ceremony, and thank Randall, in person.
This dinner always sells out, but as of this writing, about 10% of tickets remain. The event itself is pretty phenomenal, with a special meal catered by the girl & the fig, 16 featured winemakers, a pre-dinner tasting, and lively auction at the end. Do not wait until Wednesday night to decide to buy one, you’ll likely regret it and be empty handed. (Note: dinner is on a Friday night this year, not Saturday.)
Tickets are here: http://rhonerangerssfwmd.eventbrite.com/
Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund, which provides grants and scholarships to help educate the next generation of American Rhone winemakers.
Wineries: Anaba Wines, Baiocchi Wines & Vineyards, Bonny Doon Vineyard, Davis Family Vineyards, Folin Cellars, JC Cellars, Kenneth Volk Vineyards, kukkula, Margerum Wine Company, Mounts Family Winery, Petrichor Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Terre Rouge, Two Shepherds and Villa Creek Cellars.
A Weekend Celebration of American Rhone Wines
The dinner is the tip of the spear of the now largest Rhone wine event in the U.S.
Saturday morning two seminars will be moderated by Jon Bonné, Wine Editor, San Francisco Chronicle, followed by the Grand Tasting Saturday afternoon, where over 100 wineries will pour white, red, and rose’ Rhone wines. Sorry, no Cabernet.
This years seminars are quite exciting and unique.
- “Old World Inspiration, New World Innovation” with wine importer, Patrick Will, Vice President of VINTUS. This seminar will include benchmark wines from Guigal (Condrieu, Tavel, Chȃteauneuf du Pape and Côte Rôtie), as well as wines from Rhone Ranger winery members who were inspired to create their “Rhone style wines” while using innovative new world craftsmanship.
- “Mourvèdre: A Rising Star in the World of American Rhones” will feature six wines (red and rosé) that are based on the grape known as Mourvèdre, Mataro, Monastrell and at least fifty other names depending on where it is grown.
In the afternoon there is the Grand Tasting: Trade/Media & VIP Tasting 1-3 pm, and the Consumer Tasting is 3-6 pm. Note, by popular request is on Saturday this year. Enjoy Rhone wines followed by dinner in the city.
- A weekend pass that includes the seminar pass and Grand Tasting is available here for $150.
- Tickets to the Grand Tasting, only, are available here for $50. (Seriously, only $50?)
For those of you ‘afraid’ of Ft Mason events as a drunkfest, as someone who has been on both sides of the table, this tasting attracts a more engaged, enthused audience, and is not over crowded – so, come, learn, enjoy.
Reader Offer #1 – use code ‘”22RRgrapes” to save off of either purchase.
Insider Info: Download the 80 page event guide and start planning your tasting in advance! RRSF2013PrintedProgram-FinalProof
Share Your Rhone Love and Win A Pair of Tickets to The Seminars or Grand Tasting
Love Rhones? Or keen to learn more? (We all start somewhere.)
On Tuesday evening I will select a winner who can select to win a pair of tickets to the Grand Tasting or The Seminars.
To enter to win, simply share in comments below. Make sure I have your FULL name and email.
1. What is your favorite Rhone varietal, and if you have a special food pairing you enjoy with it.
2. Which Of the Pouring Wineries Are You most excited to try, and why? (list here. )
Rhone Twitter #WineChat This Wednesday Night
In celebration of the event (Twitter hashtag #RRSF) I will be leading this week’s weekly Twitter #winechat – the topic and wine of choice being domestic Rhone wines. Open a bottle and join me in a glass as I wax semi poetic on Rhones.
It’s likely Randall
will make a brief appearance at the beginning.
Cheers, and lets get ready to Rhone!
SF Chronicle: A bright moment for the Rhone-minded
As Syrah falters, make way for Grenache (SF Chronicle)
I am back! Finally catching up after Eighteen days in Europe – Denmark, Portugal, and the balance in France – with glorious tastings in Chablis and the Northern Rhone, where Syrah is the red grape of choice (and AOC law.)
For those of you still snickering over Syrah, cracking pneumonia jokes etc – move on. Syrah’s Darwinist down phase is over - Moscato or some other ‘varietal great white hope’ is next.
In truth, this ‘market correction’ was needed. Way too much bad syrah was being made, as well as planted in wrong places everywhere.
People and places that had no business being in Syrah are gone. Good riddance. The strong have survived. Incredible syrahs, especially from cool climate are in
high demand, and increasing in price, from small, talented, cult producers.
Pining For The Northern Rhone
I spent a week in the Northern Rhone, with 12 deep, technical tastings, my glass graced with some of the Rockstars of the Northern Rhone: Gangloff, Faury, Allemand, to name a few.
My first week back, as a sanity check, I popped open a bottle from Randall Grahm, the US veteran Rhone Ranger. How would his modest priced Rhone – Syrah offering fare?
(PS – Randall – they love you over there.)
At 13.5% alcohol, Mostly/all Neutral oak (thats my guess), solid acid/pH numbers, and most importantly, great flavor profile, Bonny Doon delivers the CA syrah goods at an every day price point.
- To The Eye: inky deep purple, reminiscent of Cornas, no light shall pass!
- On The Nose: Smoked meat, black olive tapenade, modest black fruits.
- In The Mouth: Well balanced. Dark black fruit, bacon notes, savory notes, good texture and soft tannins.
This is a rock solid syrah. BDV “Doon’ Members get this at a meager $21. Thats Syrah you can enjoy on a weeknight and feel great about.
This wine is officially sold out and the tasting room is selling the new 2010, but there is some online to buy
and its in some retail channels still. Grab some now! (I just re-ordered.)
Notes from Randall:
I don’t usually wholesale plagiarize a wine makers notes – but no one says it like Randall. How can you not love this man’s words?!
“La syrah,” the French say—syrah is deeply and elementally feminine—is perfumed elegance. Enchanting and capitvating rather than overpowering, it disarms by its strangeness. Like Borge’s Zahir, syrah makes an indelible impression. One will wander the world till the end of one’s days, its sublime, haunting fragrance gradually displacing all thoughts and memories, including the knowledge of one’s own name.
Oh those Europeans and European-styled wines! Initially very closed when you first meet them. Air (and time) lures them out of their protective cocoon.
Our ’09 Syrah “Le Pousseur” is named for an alchemist and trickster, but is withal an incredibly accessible wine, great by the glass but also a felicitous partner to all manner of roasted meats, poultry, game, wild mushrooms, and well aged cheeses.
Wine Geek Info:
- Varietal Blend: 100% syrah
- Appellation: Central Coast
- Vineyards: 56% Alamo Creek, 32% Bien Nacido, 12% Chequera
- Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
- TA: 0.58 g/L
- pH: 3.73
- Serving Temp: 55-60ºF
- Cellaring: 5+ years from release (May 2012)
- Production: 1200 cases
This Sunday in LA, 40 Rhone Ranger wineries assemble in
LA to help the enlightment and evolution of local palates.
As they did for the San Francisco #RRSF, the Rhone Rangers (@RhoneRangers) will host a live Rhone tasting on Twitter from 530-630 pm.
Simply follow hashtag #RRLA, the same hashtag that will be used at the event.
If you have to Google who Randall Grahm is your Rhone education is just beginning. Read about Randall Grahm , the original Rhone Ranger. Yours truly (@SonomaWilliam) will take part of course, never one to miss a Rhone event.
Open your Rhone bottle, share what you like, and interact with Rhone Rangers wineries, ask questions about all things Rhone!
See you on the Twitter airwaves, Thursday night as well as Sunday, where I’ll ‘broadcast live’ from the event. Cheers and Rhone on!
5 Responses to “Sunday June 3 – Ride to SoCal With The Rhone Rangers at LA Pouring. (Also, Discount Code,Ticket contest & Live Twitter Tasting Thursday.)”
Sunday June 3 – Ride to SoCal With The Rhone Rangers at LA Pouring. (Also, Discount Code,Ticket contest & Live Twitter Tasting Thursday.)
Live in Southern California and missed the big San Francisco 2 day Rhone weekend this March? Visiting LA next weekend? Or a LA local looking to evolve your palate?
This Sunday June 3, The Rhone Rangers ride into Los Ange
les on Sunday, June 3, 2012, with over 45 wineries pouring over 200 American-grown Rhone wines.
Read on for Discount code, a contest giveaway AND a live Twitter tasting with Guest Celebrity and Rhone legend!
New Venue – The 130 Year Old Vibiana
All events take place this year at a new location: the recently renovated Vibiana, a 130 year old
(yes, in LA) historic site located in the vibrant downtown area of Los Angeles at 214 South Main Street, near the LA Times Building.
This is event is small, intimate and limited ticket capacity that sells out every year.
Summary of Events:
(1) Trade & Media Tasting, 12 noon – 2 PM.
Indoor walk-around tasting, complimentary to qualified trade & media. Registration takes place online now through May 30 at http://www.rhonerangers.org/traderegistration/la_trade.php. Cheeses from Ancon Fine Cheese will be served.
(2) Courtyard Lunch for the Winemakers & Backstage Pass Ticketholders, 2-3:30 PM.
Wineries will break wine out into the courtyard for a lunch break. Backstage Pass Ticketholders (Tickets are $85) will join us for lunch served from gourmet food trucks. Everyone will be given 3 coupons, one for each truck, for food for lunch.Participating food trucks are Slammin’ Sliders (lobster sliders, kobe beef sliders), Flying Pig Truck (pork belly buns and other Asian-inspired foods) and Coolhaus (ice cream). This will be informal, picnic style, no reserved seating, get up and move around to taste wine from your favorite winemaker.
(3) General Admission Consumer Tasting, 3:30 – 6 PM.
Walk-around tasting, tickets are $45 ($40 with Promo Code, SDKLA612) Taste from over 200 wines poured by more than 40 wineries. Food trucks in the courtyard will provide tasty treats for purchase to complement our wines. Bid on wine and wine-related items at the silent auction; proceeds from the auction will benefit the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund. This event ends at 6 PM.
Great, Informative, High Energy Video About Last Years Event.
Enter To Win A Free Ticket, Two Winners: only 48 hours!
I told you to be patient and keep reading! Two lucky readers will have be able to attend this event.
To Enter to win, in comments below, simply tell us
Why You Love Rhone wines
Which one of the 40+ Participating Wineries (list here) are you Most eager to taste, and Why.
We pick this Wednesday night at 7 pm Pacific, so don’t delay!
Thursday Night – Live on Twitter: A Rhone Ranger #RRLA Chat with Icon Randall Grahm, and Other Wineries.
As they did for #RRSF, the Rhone Rangers (@RhoneRangers) will host a live Rhone tasting on Twitter from 530-630 pm. Simply follow hashtag #RRLA, the same hashtag that will be used at the event.
If you have to Google who Randall Grahm is, (and thats ok) your Rhone education is still blossoming. Read about Randall Grahm , the original Rhone Ranger. Yours truly (@SonomaWilliam) will take part of course, never one to miss a Rhone event.
Bring a glass of a domestic Rhone, red, white or Rosé , your favorite Twitter client loaded with hashtag #RRLA, or click your browser here. Open your Rhone bottle, share what you like, and interact with Rhone Rangers wineries, ask questions about all things Rhone!
See you on the Twitter airwaves, Thursday night as well as Sunday, where I’ll ‘broadcast live’ from the event. Cheers and Rhone on!
This Albariño from Bonny Doon is not too be confused with their 2009 Ca’ del Solo Albariño, which was one of my favorite Albariño’s at the TAPAS event in San Francisco earlier this year.
This wine derives from two vineyards in the Central Coast: Ca’ del Solo in Soledad, and Jesperson Ranch in San Luis Obispo.
Wine Review - Bonny Doon Vineyards 2010 Albariño
On The Nose: Green Apple, Asian Pear, Lemon Peel
In The Mouth: IMPORTANT – do not drink overchilled. This wine’s nuances are completely lost if overchilled (which I did by accident.) It has a rich texture, mouthfeel and slight oiliness one wouldn’t expect when combined with this acidity and lower (12.5%) alcohol. Must bug Randall or his other winemaker for vinification techniques.
It dances in the mouth with green apple and citrus and makes you smile, and reach for more. The finish is lingering, and compelling. This wine drinks wonderfully by itself, and the bottle is emptying fast as I consume it. (Instead of spitting.)
Food Pairing: Bonny Doon recommends pair it with “…pairs beautifully with briny foods like oysters, shellfish, seafood salad, fish crudo (or ceviche), or shrimp scampi with garlic and lemon. It’s a natural with fresh goat cheese, green olives, tomato salads (especially dressed with a drizzle of lemon-infused oil), tempura, and other Asian fare.” Randall and his team are foodies, so I never doubt them, however tonight’s fare when I am done reviewing is home made turkey soup.
Recommendation: 90 Points. Buy and Enjoy. At $18 this Albariño is an excellent buy, that will both drink wonderfully solo or with food, and can age easily for a few years. Available online for $18, $15 for club, and right now club members get free shipping on orders $99 or higher.
Winery of the Month: Highlights of Bonny Doon Vineyard’s ‘Day of the Doon’ at San Juan Bautista ‘Popelouchum’ Vineyard
On Sunday, September 18, 2011, Bonny Doon Vineyard celebrated Day of the Doon IX, its annual gathering of the tribes honoring its faithful D.E.W.N. Wine Club members.
As an advocate and brand ambassador, I was pleased to be able to attend, doubly so because the day was to conclude with a special naming ceremony for the new San Juan Batista vineyard.
Reader input: You will notice this blog post is lighter on verbiage, and more focused on picture content. It’s a format I am borrowing from food bloggers, that allows me to publish faster, and share more – let me know want you think.
Whats Going on in San Juan Bautista?
Several years ago, Randall Grahm made a decision to refocus, after having grown into high volume producer of wine, across multiple labels. The successful Big House and Cardinal Zin labels were sold off, and the funds used to purchase a 280-acre site in San Juan Bautista, combined with a decision to focus solely on the Bonny Doon brand.
The San Juan Bautista project is home to a number of revolutionary agricultural and viticulural experiments, centered on a new substance called “biochar” a form of highly porous charcoal that increases water retention and promotes beneficial microflora and soil fertility, and hybridizing a grape variety from seed, rarely done, and yet to be commercial success.
There is an excellent article in Edible Monterey Bay – I highly encourage you read for more details: “GRAHM’S GAMBLE: A risky quest to make a unique
American wine in San Juan Bautista“
I am a fan and admirer of Randall, and have been fortunate enough to get to know him a bit more these last few years, and even get occasional advice. Recently he took time out of a busy day hauling pears from Mendocino to Santa Cruz, to stop and taste the Rhone whites from my new tiny label about to launch – Two Shepherds.
Randall Grahm is often referred to as the original “Rhone Ranger.”
In honor of his vision, unwavering dedication, and always boldly willing to gamble and go where others have not tread before, the culmination and result of 30 years of contributions to the US Wine industry, that we name Bonny Doon as Winery of the Month.
(edit – the phenomenal, dedicated, Bonny Doon team, equally share and have earned this. )
Day of the Doon 2011 – Photo Journal
The event started with a special ceremony and songs by members of the Ohlone native Americans, who originally inhabited and were caretakers of this area.
Next we had a walking tour and overview of the property.
As a special treat, we then paired sparkling wine with a tomato tasting, and compared tomatoes grown in biochar and dry farmed versus normal.
Next Randall spent some time answering questions about biochar, the vineyard, and other things, while we enjoyed some wine. (Truly a rough day.) As you can see, I was paying rapt attention.
Also for your enjoyment, I captured a bit of video footage – here Randall talks about the challenges of planting grenache from seed.
Next we were treated to a special vertical tasting of magnums of 2001, 2003, and 2005 Cigare Volant (and/or some lovely Sangria.) and some nibbles. (No pictures of food sorry, I need to get better at food porn.)
And then it was time to eat and drink! Dinner that is – as if we hadn’t already been all afternoon.
After many great courses of food and wine, we moved outdoors, under the stars for a special naming ceremony of the San Juan Bautista vineyard.
DEWNies traversed labyrinth builder Lars Howlett’s site-specific creation, lit by candlelight. Ohlone Chief Sonne Reyna delivered an invocation, inviting the spirits of the land to return to this sacred place. The 280-acre property was formally given the name “Popelouchum.”
Pronounced “Pop-loh-shoom,” is the Mutsun language word the Ohlone natives historically used for the site. Its secondary meaning is “paradise,” a quality evident to all who visited this special day.
In his official press annoucement Randall Grahm said:
“Day of the Doon events have always been perhaps a bit theatrical, but the intent of this year’s celebration was to set aside theatricality for its own sake. Sharing Popelouchum with our dear friends, we proclaimed our unremitting dedication to the discovery of the terroir of this very special place, and to letting the land speak in its own unique voice.”
Indeed. I look forward to next year and following the progress of this great labor of love. Perhaps I can even convince Randall to let me have grenache seedling for my own new grenache vineyard!
Terroir: My Spiritual Journey (Part 1) (Randall Grahm blog)
I am pleased to be one of the first to review the new Bonny Doon Vineyards 2010 Clos de Gilroy Grenache. The 2009 was one of my first “Wine of the Week’ in 2010 and it is again now. Regular readers know I am a huge fan of both Bonny Doon and Grenache – but that doesn’t make it a shoe in. If anything, since Grenache is one of my top varietals, I am quite hard when judging it. It’s a beautiful variety that often gets mistreated. (It’s not Cabernet, don’t make it like it is.)
About 2010 Clos de Gilroy
Per the iconic Randall Grahm:
‘The Wine Formerly Known as Clos de Gilroy ‘ or (TWFKaCdG) pays homage to the quaint, rustic town of Gilroy, the spiritual locus of all matters alliaceous. The fruit for our Grenache does not, despite its name, derive from Gilroy (clos,but no Cigare), but instead primarily from our former estate vineyard in Soledad and the Alta Loma vineyard in Greenfield, along with a sprinkling of other vineyards along the Central Coast. The wine exhibits all the hallmarks of exceptional cool climate Grenache.
This is encouraging to someone in the middle of planting the first 500 of 1200 grenache vines in Russian River Valley, also a cooler climate.
At one point, wine maven and head of Direct to Consumer Sales, Meg Houston Maker, had scared me that there might not be a 2010, as Randall is uncompromising in what he puts his name, on. I was ecstatic to learn they did (only 2400 cases) and as I taste it side by side with a 2009 from my cellar, I am happy to report its wonderful.
Coming Up Soon – Day of the Doon IX, Sunday Sept 18th
Quick tangent – I am delighted to attend my first Day of the Doon, their annual wine club celebration will take place hosted at the new estate vineyard in San Juan Bautista. Randall Grahm will host a brief tour of their new plantings followed by a farm-to-table wine dinner celebrating the abundance of harvest. This event always sells out. Hope to meet some of you other Dewnstahs there!
Wine Review: 2010 Clos de Gilroy
One the Nose: Intense aromatics. Dark red fruits – lots of raspberry, and some cherry. Spice.
In The Mouth: Light bodied, supple, balanced. Raspberry, cherry, touch of cranberry. Presence of soft tannin on finish will allow this wine to pair with a wider variety of foods, as well as I suspect, bottle age nicely.
Recommendation: For $16-18 this wine is a must buy. 90 points. Great QPR (Quality Price Ratio.) Media Sample (although I will be buying more at Wine Club discount, I bought several cases of the 2009.)
This is my go to wine for ‘comfort wine’, crowd pleasers, and a wide food pairing range. Randall recommends it with grilled meat or veggies, roasted poultry, or anything al fresco with olive oil.
Where to Buy: Online at Bonny Doon, $18. At a few retail locations. K&L San Francisco currently has ~20 in stock
Wine Geek Info:
- Varietal Blend: 75% grenache, 13% cinsault, 12% syrah
- Appellation: Monterey County Alcohol by Volume: 13.1%
- TA: 4.8 g/L
- pH: 3.69
- Production: 2,384 cases
Jon Bonné As Syrah falters, make way for Grenache
It’s the time again, wineries are releasing their new 2010 Rosé. It’s been great to see dry (non sweet) rosé wines come back into vogue and many producers I have spoke with have increased production this year. (My apologies to readers for lack of posts and reviews. The double edged sword of gaining in visibility is being pulled in many directions, as well as a very demanding regular job.)
“Real wine drinkers don’t drink Rosé.” When I hear that (or the same comment on white) I quietly gnash my teeth, weep for the ignorance, and hope that one day someone or something will enlighten them. Don’t choke on that Cabernet.
Rosé is made from red grapes. If you go to a wine tasting, pouring white, pink, and reds, you will notice they are poured in THAT order.
Most Rosé today is not your sweet, white zin ‘blush’ wine, its juice pressed off of Red wine grapes after some skin contact, and fermented dry, just like your normal red or white wine. Its meant to be drunk only lightly chilled, and enjoyed as an apertif or with a variety of foods, especially summer grilled fare.
Rhone red wines make wonderful Rosé, generally much better than Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet, Merlot etc. (Although you can find them.) Recently I tried the new Syrah Rosé from Mounts Family Winery and the Rhone blend Rosé from Quivira, both Dry Creek Valley producers, both under $20, and both I don’t expect to last long. I will endeavor to review these as well, but consider this a strong recommendation.
Grenache can make an exceptionally wonderful Rosé, so I was pleased to see the new Bonny Doon Vin Gris was 71% grenache. What is more intriguing is the percentage of Rhone whites blended in, in this case 16% Roussanne, and 11% Grenache Blanc. (also 2% Mourvedre.) Something I will have to remember for my own home Rosé science projects.
I could barely keep this gem in the glass as I was reviewing it, it’s so highly drinkable. I thought it a perfect ‘Wine of the Week.’ I have also been asked why I don’t review more wines under $20, so Ta Da – here is a winner!
To the Eye: Gorgeous, light salmon color
On The Nose: Red fruit, rose petals, and strawberry on the nose
In The Mouth: Apple, red fruit, modest citrus touch of stone fruit. Mouthwatering, balanced acidity is heavenly when combined with the mouth feel from lees (yeast sediment) stirring. This is a practice often done in white wines to add texture and mouthfeel, and works very well here. I suspect the Roussanne also adds some richness.) Good minerality (think wet stone) contributed from whites. Glad its only 12.8& alcohol, as it goes down easy.
Food Pairing: Ridiculously quaffable solo. I am sure it pairs with all kinds of foods, but right now I am embracing it with only my taste buds. I’d go for grilled fish, chicken, veggies, if any is left.
Recommendation: Buy. Now. Usually for Rosé the rule of thumb is to consume that year, but some do age, and indeed Randall Grahm recommends “Delicious today but will develop added richness and aroma with an additional 6-12 months of bottle age.”
As I wrote recently in the article ‘‘Shipping Included’ – the Future of Direct to Consumer? An interview with Bonny Doon Vineyard’ Bonny Doon is taking an aggressive approach to shipping costs. Earlier this year, shipping was included for $99. For the month of April its included in a case. Mix and match, they have many great wines under $20. And join the wine club to save another 15%. It feels like robbery. (I just received a mixed case.)
Wine Geek Info:
- Varietal Blend: 71% grenache, 16% roussanne, 11% grenache blanc, and 2% mourvèdre
- Appellation: Central Coast, California
- Alcohol by Volume: 12.8%
- TA: 0.45 g/100 ml
- pH: 3.5
- Production: 3,298 cases
Enjoy – and thanks for reading Simple Hedonisms Wine Blog – if you like what you read, spread the word and share the article – cheers!
Wine Blogger Wednesday (#WBW71) snuck up on me, and a slammed day. I had hoped to write several articles, given the topic is one near and dear to my heart: Rhones Not From The Rhône aka France. As a passionate Rhone Ranger I HAD to write, even if if its one of the last blogs of the day for WBW.
Rhone Wines Popularity Surging in The US
Rhone wines are suddenly getting a huge amount of attention. Paso Robles, the mecca of US Rhones, made the cover of Wine Spectator last month. Wine writers have been pumping out pieces like Jon Bonne’s “.. make way for Grenache”. Grenache Blanc (thats a white grape Sonoma peeps) crushed tonnage doubled in 2009 (I need to see 2010 stats.) Articles on Mourvedre, Syrah and more are more abundant that ever before.
The Rhone movement is everywhere and its easy to understand. There are 22 Rhone varietals, though in the U.S. we commonly see about 2/3 of them. Tablas Creek a leading producer of Rhone wines, and who paved the Rhone viticulture movement, has more under quarantine. We also much to Rhone icon Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard for his tireless pursuit in advancing Rhone wines in the US.
Rhone Wines & Blends
Why do people go Rhone loco once they discover them? Its a huge category of wines, with endless permutations of white and red blends. And for those tired of big over oaked tannic Reds, or white flabby oak bombs. Rhone wines are often more subtle, nuanced. Wine consumers often consume ‘big’ with complex – and if anything its the opposite.
Don’t get me wrong, New World Winemakers can and do screw up Rhone wines. Nothing makes me want to beat a wine maker or owner with a punchdown tool than a lovely Grenache thats been subjected to new oak, over extracted, and the fruit entirely masked. Fortunately the revolution against big wines has been growing as well as more new Rhone winemakers realizing that Carignane and Mourvedre aren’t Cabernet Sauvignon and shouldn’t be made in the same method.
Rhone wines have more diversity across the varietals and give winemakers a huge flavor portfolio to work with, and thus consumers a myriad of combinations and flavor profiles. In Rhone wines, often the Sum of the Whole, is greater than the sum of the parts.
Those of you in the Bay Area interested in Rhones should not miss the Rhone Ranger event in San Francisco this month. Most think of it as just the Grand Tasting, but its two full days of Seminars with wine, a wine makers dinner and auction, and a tasting.
Thus tonight, I present a Rhone blend, from a new producer I recently met. It’s an ever increasingly small place here in the wine world.
Wesley Ashley Wines – Intelligent Design Cuvee
‘Intelligent Design: Wine With a Soul’ is the mantra for the brain/love child of Jim Sloate. The name Wesley-Ashley come from the combination his middle name, “Wesley,” which is an old family nae and “Ashley,” his little girl’s middle name.)
The Genesis of Intelligent Design & ‘Wine with A Soul’
Jim was thinking about the label for his new wine, and one night, perusing photographs from various trips came across the picture of the bike, shot during a trip to Cuba. The bike looked like it belonged in a junkyard. But, it was also very functional, and it had obviously been kept working by a very resourceful person. Then, it hit him that the blends he wanted to make were very much like that bike—multiple components coming together to create something very functional, and even beautiful.
Jim thought – “That’s my label. Now what about the name?” Sitting there at the table sipping my glass, wine in my hand, my mind wandering randomly, it came to me: “Intelligent Design.”
Playing off of the debate between “Intelligent Design” and the theory of evolution, Wesley Ashley Wines asks you to ponder:
is a fine wine is simply the sum of its parts, or is there something else, something indefinable, that makes it truly special? Is a great wine a matter of science … or is it something more?
Jim feels ‘A working knowledge of enology is all you really need to make a good wine, but it takes a bit of the divine to make a great wine. A great wine has a soul.’
I for one, tend to agree…
Review: Wesley Ashley Wines – Intelligent Design Cuvee, Red Rhone Blend
On the Nose: Rhubarb. Spice. Black Cherry. Earth.
In the Mouth: The primary varietal is Carignane (52%) and it’s presence, while not overpowering, is a wonderful base 6 varietals total). Good red fruit, dark berry, earth, detectable all front, mid palate and a nice finish with excellent acidity and food friendly nature. Modest tannins, and 13.8% alcohol. A wine that is great by itself, shines brightly with food.
Rating: Outstanding. 90 points.
Varietals: 52% Carignane, 15% Grenache, 14% Cinsault, 11% Petite Sirah, 5% Mourvedre
Cheers and thanks for reading Simple Hedonisms Wine Blog !