Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bonny Doon: Four Pink Wines On The Edge

"First of all, since we’ve established that, at least for us, it’s not about money, let’s then talk about beauty. What voice might we lend to illuminate wine’s strange beauty?"
--Randall Grahm

Randall Grahm, the founder and winermaker at Bonny Doon Vineyard, based in Santa Cruz, California, produces a cool range of intriguing wines, willing to experiment with different grapes and styles. Aesthetics are also important to Randall, from the labels on the bottle to the wine inside. Combine experimentation and beauty, and you might create some fascinating wines. Recently, I received media samples of four of Randall's latest "Pink" wines, what others would refer to as Rosé. All four were certainly very different, experimenting with varied grapes and styles, and though all four didn't work for my own preferences, I greatly appreciate what Randall accomplished.

We begin with the 2015 A Proper Pink ($16), a blend of 69% Tannat and 31% Cabernet Franc, with an alcohol content of 13%. This is a darkish pink wine, basically a light red color, and is said to reflect the preferred style of wine during the Middle Ages, a clairet style. This is a more full-bodied Rosé, dry and crisp but with bright red fruit flavors, lush strawberry and watermelon. There are some black peppery notes but also a green pepper element, especially more on the finish, which comes from the use of Cabernet Franc. As I've mentioned before, I dislike that green pepper taste which is found in some Cabernet Franc so this was my least favorite of the four wines. However, that is a preference issue and I know plenty of other wine lovers who enjoy that taste and would love this Rosé wine. I liked everything else about this wine except for the green pepper taste.

Much more appealing to my taste was the 2015 Vin Gris de Cigare ($18), an intriguing blend of 44% Grenache, 20% Grenache Blanc, 12% Carignane, 11% Mourvèdre, 7% Cinsaut, and 6% Roussanne. With an alcohol content of 13.5%, this wine is made in the vin gris style, from grapes, picked at optimal ripeness, with minimal skin contact.  It also experiences some bâtonnage, stirring the lees after fermentation, which is intended to add some creaminess to the texture. This Rosés a pale pink in color, resembling a typical Provence Rosé, and its aroma and taste are similar as well. This is an elegant and more subtle Rosé, crisp and dry, with restrained red fruit flavors with mineral notes. There are also some subtle floral notes and a touch of savory herbs. It is complex and intriguing, with a lingering, satisfying finish. Absolutely delicious and refreshing, something you can enjoy on its own or with seafood or a light chicken dish. Highly recommended!

Returning to a very dark Rosé wine, the 2015 Il Ciliegiolo Rosato ($24) is made from 100% Ciliegiolo, an Italian grape (whose name means "small cherry") which is thought in some circles to be a parent of Sangiovese. The grape is most common in the Tuscan region in Italy, though it can be found in other Italians regions too, and it seems Italian producers are just starting to realize its potential. A small amount of Ciliegiolo is grown in California and Randall feels it is great potential there as well. With an alcohol content of 12.4%, the cherry aromas, with a hint of earthiness, from this wine are alluring. On the palate, the bright cherry flavors dominate, though there are delightful undertones of earthiness and herbs, a savory aspect which elevates this beyond just a one-note wine. Another delicious wine, something I would enjoy with grilled meats this summer.

The most unusual of the four "Pink" wines was easily the 2013 Vin Gris Tuilé ($26), a blend of 55% Grenache, 23% Mourvèdre, 10% Roussanne, 7% Cinsaut, 3% Carignane, and 2% Grenache Blanc. This is a vin tuilé , a solarized "brick wine," a style that Randall encountered on a visit to Côte de Provence.  To replicate this style, Randall let this wine sit in glass demijohns out in the sun and elements for about nine months. With an alcohol content of 13%, only 192 cases were made and as the wine is unfiltered, there is some sediment in the bottle. It has a more brownish-pink color and its aroma immediately brought to my mind the smell of sherry. And on the palate, it definitely tasted like a sherry as well, savory and nutty, with that oxidized element. There were some subtle notes of citrus and caramel, contributing to the complexity of the wine. Though Randall has stated this wine has a curry flavor, I didn't get that taste. As a sherry lover, I loved this wine though it certainly won't appeal to everyone. Highly recommended!

Kudos to Randall Grahm for taking the risk to produce such intriguing Pink wines.

1 comment:

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