Posts Tagged ‘Bonny Doon Vineyard’

Randall Grahm posted a speech he gave at UC Davis. It’s a very interesting and compelling speech delivered with all the charm, wit and insight you would expect from Randall.

Why Should Terroir Matter…
…in The Golden State Where All is Sweetness and Light Anyway?
Excerpts from Speech delivered by Randall Grahm at University of California at Davis on 2/5/2010

I would argue that the current contretemps that we are experiencing in the wine business is not merely the result of the perfect storm of the melting down of the world economies, combined with the phenomenon of every plastic surgeon, reconstructive dentist, rock star, sports star and dot com refugee deciding to enter the wine business at precisely the same time. At a minimum, I believe that there is also something akin to a spiritual malaise, a sort of “brand sickness” developing in our industry – just far too many wineries, brands, brand extensions they’re called, and suddenly one has the rather vertiginous feeling that it is rather difficult to find the real value of anything any more…

…For me, drip irrigation, followed closely by new oak and obscene levels of overripeness, are the most dangerous enemies of the potential expression of terroir. But control is what we have been particularly skilled at in the New World, and it has given us stylistic consistency – the smoothing over of great vintage variations, which tend to vex many wine consumers, and in some respect has made New World wines particularly accessible to New World palates. But, I would argue that having eaten from the tree of wine knowledge and seeking to control all unpredictable elements of the winemaking process, our wines have lost something precious, maybe a certain kind of quirky originality that makes them memorable. In becoming essentially flawless, I’m not convinced at all that they have become more interesting, maybe far less so.

In California, I imagine a true vin de terroir to be the ultimate low-tech product…

Read the entire speech at Been Doon So Long…

I worked at Bonny Doon Vineyard when I was in college — it was my dream job — I loved working there and I loved and admired Randall. I had never witnessed anyone throw caution to the wind such ease — and be so consumed with their passion — it was infectious and I thought I was the luckiest person in the world to have that job. It wasn’t much of a paycheck (but the work was so much fun) — and was an experience that couldn’t be had at any price, plus I got 50 percent off as much of the wine as I could buy.

Randall has always stayed true to his own vision, his own mad view of the wine world. He didn’t create wines for Parker. Randall actually poked fun at Parker and perhaps paid a price, as Parker has since been less than enthusiastic about Randall’s wines.

During my time at Bonny Doon I witnessed some great achievements and a few misses that bordered on minor comic tragedy. There were days when he hit the mark and days when his frizzante turned out being as likely to be detonated as consumed (long story) — but he always seemed true to himself and at the end of the day that is exactly where your internal compass should point you. He is one of a kind and certainly has that quirky originality that makes him so very memorable. Perhaps more important than being just memorable, Randall has shown an amazing ability to stay relevant — and his ideas are going to be the ones that make people rethink or reconsider their take on the wine world…and everything else for that matter.

Related post:
The Pour | Randall Grahm

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I  wasn’t very optimistic about this wine, I opened a bottle of it about 16 months ago and was disappointed. I thought that my pessimism might not be warranted given my recent experience with the Bonny Doon Vineyard DEWN Mourvedre Contra Costa County 2000. Perhaps Bonny Doon’s wines really are made for the long haul and my last bottle was just one bad apple.

The last 8 years have not been kind to this BDV Syrah. There isn’t much fruit or body left to it. It tasted old, musty and lifeless and I couldn’t bring myself to have more than a glass of it.

Sorry, it does hurt me to say it — those that know me would say that I am a fan of Bonny Doon Vineyard and Randall Grahm. I do remember tasting this around the year 2000 and thinking it was a very good Syrah, but it certainly didn’t hold up very well.

Bonny Doon Old Telegram 2004
Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 1998
Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant Blanc 2005
Bonny Doon Contra Costa Mouvedre 2000 (DEWN)

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This is a 2000 Contra Costa Mouvedre that I acquired while I was still a DEWN (Distinct Esoteric Wine Network) member. I spotted it in the process of packing up and organizing my wine for the move.

Given that my recent experience has not been so great with cellaring some of Bonny Doon’s wines more than 5-6 years, I assumed this might not be box and transport worthy to the new address which will become home. I opened it with limited expectations, assuming it might have already seen its best days. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised.

There is some nice candied fruit on the nose with notes of raspberry, strawberry and some stewed cherry, anise and garrigue components. On the palate, bright red fruit with baked cherry, strawberry and cranberry with some earth, mushroom and mocha. Medium body, food-friendly with velvety tannins, nice acidity and soft underlying minerality. It certainly is mature, but still has a hint of youth. I would certainly enjoy this in the next year if I had more.

This label was designed by Gary Taxali. Gary was born in 1968 in Chandigarh, India and a year later, he and his family immigrated to Toronto, Canada. At the encouragement of his parents, Gary enrolled in art classes as a child — which eventually led him to pursue an art education. In 1991, he graduated from the Ontario College of Art and immediately began working as a professional illustrator.

Gary has done a number of labels for Bonny Doon. I think the Mourvedre might be my favorite, though I would give honorable mention to the 2001 Freisa.  It might be the only wine label that ever has (and ever will) feature a character that is not only picking his nose but also consuming found treasures.

My next decision, a Bonny Doon 1998 Estate Syrah. To pack or not to pack? I know there is also a bottle of the 2001 Freisa. Will it be totally repugnant or immensly appetizing? Stay tuned.

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This is 100 percent mourvedre from Bonny Doon Vineyard. I worked at Bonny Doon during my last year and a half of college. Old Telegram and Le Sophiste were the first wines I started to stockpile in the late 1980s. I depleted all of my reserves a few years back. I had a magnum of an 88 Telegram that I opened 4 years ago, and though it might have been in its twilight, it still showed beautifully.

The 2004 is dark cherry in color. Not a lot of fruit on the nose, but some pepper, tree bark and wet basement components. Solid tannins and some spice, leather and white pepper on the palate — again not a lot of fruit, (actually a little hollow). A bit austere, very dry and maybe a bit of a bully, making little if any attempt to temper its masculinity. This might not be a crowd pleaser, but I would be quite happy to share a quiet evening with a glass of the Old Telegram and a hearty, charred piece of meat.

They shipped this wine to me as part of my DEWN membership (which I finally gave up this year). The wine retails for $30 a bottle. Certainly much better values in the market place, but at least in my case, this wine does stir up some memories — and I still have a soft spot for Bonny Doon.

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This week’s recipe is citrus granita with shortbread cookies from Lisa Neimeth. View the recipe at Design*Sponge.

Originally from New York, Lisa Neimeth is a ceramic artist now living in San Francisco. Though she loves her new hometown, she also spends a lot of time in New Mexico, tromping around the land where Georgia O’Keeffe and Agnes Martin have walked. She loves to collect-literally and figuratively-on the beach, in the mountains, in the desert, flea markets and on the street..and incorporate all of these images into her work. Tableware is her passion right now and she spends a lot of time creating hand formed plates, platters and bowls of various sizes impressing vintage and found objects with hand etched details. See (and shop) more of Lisa’s beautiful work.

Suggested wine pairing: Bonny Doon Muscat Vin de Glaciere
Bonny Doon is going to stop making this dessert wine — and suggest you buy it now before it is no longer. The wine has an amazing nose of apricot, spice and jasmine. Apricot, orange blossom and lemon zest on the palate. The citrus components of the wine that are similar to the primary flavors in the granita and pairs well with shortbread.

This wine was served with dessert at every state dinner during the Clinton years. How it ended up being served to dignitaries and heads of state is an interesting story. When Bill Clinton was running for his first term as president, Randall Grahm gave a bunch of wine to the campaign in California. When Clinton won the presidential election, the head of the California campaign called and told Randall he would present the Clintons with a bottle of wine from Bonny Doon. Randall took a bottle of Vin de Glaciere and signed it — “Bill, I trust you will like this wine so much you will virtually inhale it! Randall” — true story as I was the trafficker of the bottle of wine.

Bonny Doon has released a Pacific Rim Riesling Vin de Glaciere that will replace the Muscat, but the phasing out of the Muscat does mark an end to an era.

About the weekly wine pairings with Design*Sponge
I will be providing the weekly wine pairing for the recipes edited by Kristina on Design*Sponge. The In-the-Kitchen-With column appears every Friday at noon, and features the recipes of design*sponge readers’ favorite designers. Design*Sponge is a daily website dedicated to home and product design run by Brooklyn-based writer, Grace Bonney. Launched in August of 2004, Design*Sponge features store and product reviews, sale and contest announcements, new designer profiles, trend forecasting and store/studio tours.

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I worked at Bonny Doon Vineyard when I was in college — it was my dream job — I loved working there and I loved and admired Randall. I had never witnessed anyone throw caution to the wind such ease — and be so consumed with their passion — it was infectious and I thought I was the luckiest person in the world to have that job. It wasn’t much of a paycheck — but it was an experience and I got 50 percent off as much of the wine as I could buy.

Randall has always stayed true to his own vision, his own mad view of the wine world. He didn’t create wines for Parker — he actually mocked Parker — and perhaps paid a price, as Parker has always been less than enthusiastic about Randall’s wines (and not always without reason). But that is just Randall being Randall — and you have to admire him doing things how he wants and being true to his own creative spirit. The guy has some cajones…

My experience at BDV opened my mind and palate to the world of wine — and for that I will always be grateful. To this day, I love all things Bonny Doon — the hits and the misses. There are few sure things with wine — and there is something to find in the hits, near hits, near misses and misses — all have value.

Cigare Volant is usually a hit — though it is hard to pay about $30 a bottle now when there are much better values available. I prefer to drink these wines (all of BDV’s wines for that matter) within 3-4 years of release. A few months ago I had a bottle of 1996 Cigare and was a bit disappointed. Tonight, the 1998 is off to better start, I decanted it a number of times, but is showing some serious funk on the nose and also showing it’s age in the glass. It’s a bit better on the palate — but there just isn’t much fruit. The wine is 14.5% alcohol — and it is quite hot on the nose. It’s shows some cherry, rhubarb and light plum in the mouth — with a nice finish, a little on the thin side. This vintage was 47% Grenache, 37% Syrah and the remainder was Mourvedre.

Le Cigare was also one of the first great California GSMs.

It will be interesting to see how this opens up over the course of the evening — it has been in the bottle for almost 10 years, so it would take a little encouragement to get me to strut my stuff after being put down for that amount of time.

I’ll keep my DEWN membership and keep some BDV wines on hand (at least as long as Randall continues to be involved and/or they stay true to his tune)…..but my experiences tell me that patience doesn’t yield many benefits with these wines. I will drink them while they are in their youth.

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92788l.jpgI have a soft spot for Randall Grahm. I worked at Bonny Doon many moons ago — before Bill Clinton was President.

As mentioned in a previous post, I took a phone call from the head of the California campaign for Clinton after Grahm gave many cases of wine to the campaign. Clinton had just been elected President and the head of the California campaign said to send a bottle of BDV and he would personally deliver to the Clintons.

Randall took a bottle of Vin de Glaciere and wrote, “Bill, I trust you will like this wine so much you will virtually inhale it. Randall Grahm” — history was made and Hillary had that wine served at every state dinner during Bill’s tenure.

I am a fan of the Clinton’s — but now find myself leaning ever closer to supporting Obama. Barack, you have my vote as long as you pledge to serve BDV Vin de Glaciere at all State dinners…….

You might also want to serve Le Cigare Blanc. I do love this wine, it is 60% Roussanne and 40% Grenache Blanc. Not very aromatic on the nose, but lovely on the palate. Citrus, pear, mineral and wet stone with a hint of Ooolong — good acidity with a clean finish.

Great food wine — stood up very well this evening to Indian food. BDV Vin Gris is always a good bet with Indian as well.


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