Woman on Wine by Amy Reiley
Even if you’ve never tried the wines of Bonny Doon Vineyard, you’ve surely run across them in the wine shop. You’ll remember them by the quirky, iconic labels, the kind that make you smile (and make you worry that you’re tempted by a gimmick). But fear not, Bonny Doon makes fun wine, accessible wine, but it’s world-class wine.
Bonny Doon Vineyard is the vision of one man, Randall Grahm, who is known for his outspoken personality and eccentric vision for what makes an American wine company. Make no mistake, however, that eccentricity has built one of America’s most successful wineries.
What I love about Bonny Doon Vineyard, and why I’ve chosen to make it the exclusive feature of my column this month, is how incredibly accessible this winery has made less recognizable grapes and unusual blends. It’s also a winery that’s helped make terroir “cool,” bringing wide attention to the concept that grapes reflect the place in which they’re grown, (and in fact, some grapes just shouldn’t be grown in certain places). And while attempting to take that which was once highbrow to a wide audience, Bonny Doon always kept their wines affordable for the masses they attempt to reach. So, welcome to the weird, wonderful world of Bonny Doon.
2011 Le Cigare Volant
Bonny Doon’s flagship wine, Le Cigare is an age-worthy, Rhone-inspired red. Blackberry and black cherry offer the wine’s primary fruit notes. But underlying tobacco, game meat and mushroom give the wine its interesting character.
2013 Le Cigare Blanc
This is an interesting blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul. The result is a floral, refreshing white. It’s made in an easy-going style and would make the mouth water when paired with a variety of foods from a cheese plate to grilled sausage. But it is also great on its own at the end of a long day.
2014 Vin Gris de Cigare
A Provence-inspired pink made in the USA, this wine will transport you to some place fabulous, if only till your glass is drained. It is lusciously strawberry in color, aroma and flavor. On the tongue there’s a salinity that makes the mouth positively water for more.
2014 Clos de Gilroy Monterrey Grenache
This is an incredibly fun wine. It introduces itself with a lovely strawberry-rhubarb something, but at some point evolves to offer something sexy, animal and musky. It is extremely food friendly. Serve it with everything from pizza to steak on the barbie.
2011 Syrah, Bien Nacido Vineyard
A juicy wine packed with fruit flavors, this (relatively) cool-climate Syrah offers sweet blackberries, bing cherries and red currants. Hints of herbs and boullion add complexity and a touch of black peppercorn at the back of the palate gives the wine a terrific kick.
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