Day 14.2: Bonny Doon Sends saignée Their Current Releases
The authors of this post are the authors of saignée and rank wine amateurs as well.
It is a given that the best way to get noticed is to do something poorly.
About two months ago i wrote what was essentially a joke post on wine blogging ethics in response to the mostly manufactured ridiculousness of the whole Robert Parker/Wine Advocate “scandal” or whatever the fuck it was. So naturally, given the universe’s tendency to punish the lazy, a few weeks later i received an e-mail from the PR department of a winery wondering if i would like to receive a sample for the blog. Now i don’t have any qualms about receiving samples to review, but i will put down a few serious points:
1. saignee doesn’t do scores or thumbs or stars.
2. i personally don’t believe in objectivity in aesthetic judgement.
3. It must be said that i do, however, believe in expertise in casting aesthetic judgment, but i don’t claim any sort of expertise because i honestly am just learning myself. i have neither the knowledge that comes with a lifetime of dedicated tasting, nor the knowledge and expertise of a true professional.
4. If a wine is a review sample from a producer/importer etc. i will be upfront about it. i will never solicit samples from anyone, nor do we have ads or any receive any kind of compensation.
5. Guilhaume Gerard has bought me dinner before.
I was going to post this much earlier but i figured, hey, it fits with this month’s program and like it or not, Randall Grahm is going to be a spokesman for natural wine in America given his status in the industry.
Located nearby in the Santa Cruz Mountains Randall Grahm, wine-maker for Bonny Doon, has been a lot of things in the world of California wine. Pioneer of Rhone varieties, early proponent of micro-ox, marketer par-excellence, mass market wine producer, eccentric, and as of late, outspoken advocate for natural wine-making, from biodynamics to dry farming. He has approached his new found passion with all the zeal of the newly converted and will talk to anyone who will listen, from the Times to Oprah. What we received in the mail was the start of what (Grahm has only been going natural for a few years) i hope is an ongoing dialogue that Bonny Doon is having with all aspects of winemaking, from farming to cellaring. Randall isn’t working from tradition, per-say, since he is essentially starting anew in the process, but if he sticks with it and really learns there may not be a better person to help figure this all out.
i drank these wines on two separate nights, the first time with a larger group that included co-blogger Chris Osborn, and the second time with just my wife and i (Chris’ notes go first, with mine following, but honestly both notes came from a conversational atmosphere, rather than a clinical setting so you may as well consider the whole thing a group note.) i honestly haven’t the faintest clue how to write a post where i take it deadly serious, so if this post come across as bad, or boring, let me know.
2007 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc
Smelled like mineral, lemon rind, honey, and something else unreadable on my hand-written notes. Continues on the palette with similar citrus, but also bringing bitter herbs and an elusive buttery aspect (elusive as I’m vegan and my Butter Sensor is a bit out of whack). Some low acid binds the whole thing, but not really in a good way. Overall, this wine feels too big for a white, even into slimy territory that I associate with Viognier, despite this blend being Roussane/Grenache Blanc. The table just wasn’t feeling this one, even though it wasn’t especially bad. It’s a shame though, cause I really loved the 2006 which I remember to be cleaner and lighter. The 2007 did have a nice epilogue though when I finished it at dinner the next evening with a salad. Yeah.
This wine was definitely a rousanne, with that strong perfumed aromatic expression coming through. I can’t help to think that this would have been that much nicer if it hadn’t been the bruiser that it was. It just kind of sits there after the glass is done, but not in that delicate thoughtful way, but rather an uninvited guests who manages to spill a bag of greasy chips on your couch and won’t leave despite the night clearly being over.
2008 Bonny Doon Vin de Gris
The whole table was digging the strawberry and lime nose, when our friend John rudely said it was more like grapefruit, thus ruining our olfactory fun as then we could only smell fucking grapefruit. Cory was quick to chastise John and got him to fall in line. Onward, the wine tasted of fucking grapefruit but with a welcome spicy twist. It finished super-dry with a distinctly odd medicinal finish. Now we’re onto something. We all kept coming back to this one, and I pronounced it a “Good Wine For When You’re Sweaty” just in time for Summer.
Cold snapped wine that was definitely made to take a chill on it. Crisp is the word to describe this wine. Some light, oh so light, spice like pepper on cold limes on maybe a bed of barely there violets. Lighter than the alcohol content would suggest. Without a doubt the wine of the night and the only one that didn’t last till the morning.
2005 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant
The first unfiltered offering for this venerable line of Doon wines. I’ve had just as many bad experiences as good with this wine in the past, so I was very curious how the new 2005 would turn out. Answer: sucky. The nose had a few nice barnyard, earthy things going on, but was marred by an overwhelming blast of alcohol. This is very weird, as the Cigare Volant had the lowest alcohol of the three at 13.5%. Anyways, onto tasting, this one could easily be confused with a Cabernet Sauvignon: all tannic black fruit. Kinda boring, but not bad. However, the finish was down-right nasty: rotten prunes. And normally, I love a long finish, but when the finish is prune-y… not so much. Of course, this is brand-new release, and the Cigs are meant to age, so we’ll see what time brings (or not).
Meat, blueberries and smoke up front with cracked leather and some heavy dirt and wood in the middle. This wine smacks you with an uncomfortably heavy grappa heat at the back of the throat. i couldn’t find anything wrong with this wine, nor could any of us, it was just wildly unbalanced. Definitely not my kind of wine.
2008 Ca Del Solo Muscat
Heavy hot banana soap. Maybe i just went in associating muscat with lightness, but this went down with a heavy thud at first, much like the rousanne. Interstingly enough when it warmed up some and had about an hour to open up did it start to show some acid and lose some of its fleshy overtones. i still didn’t care for the wine, but at least it was getting interesting.
2008 Ca Del Solo Albarino
i’m not even sure i should be reviewing this wine. i don’t like the heavy, overly serious, modern, perfumed, hot Albariños coming from Spain and this definitely isn’t any different. Honestly though, if those types of Albariños are your thing, there isn’t anything to stop me from telling you to buy this wine, since there isn’t anything wrong with it. It just isn’t my thing. (How’s that for lazy critical bet-hedging, fuck me).
Follow day by day here: http://saignee.wordpress.com/31-days-of-natural-wine/
Up next: Kevin Kelley and his fresh wine experiment; or: Kevin Kelley must be sick of his name and “experiment” in the same sentence.