Drink Pink Rosé of the Week: 2012 A Donkey and Goat Grenache Gris Isabel’s Cuvée

It’s that time of year… Yes, it’s Rosé season!. With that in mind, I’ve embarked upon a   series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  This week’s Rosé is the 2012 A Donkey and Goat Grenache Gris Isabel’s Cuvée.

The Winery

Donkey and Goat Winery is a family owned and operated urban winery located in Berkeley, California.  The winery is owned by Jared and Tracey Brandt.  Theirs is a story we’ve heard before, but with a “natural” twist.  They left tech careers to pursue their dreams of making wine. They got started making wines in the Rhône Valley, and returned to California to apply what they learned in France.

The “natural” twist is their focus –  no make that obsession, with making wines as naturally as possible.  While “natural” wine-making has become more and more en vogue  these days, the Brandts have been doing it since day one.  You can read their complete manifesto here, but suffice it to say they take minimal intervention to the next level.  This includes using native yeasts, fermenting their wines in used oak barrels or concrete (most wineries use plastic bins), using no machines for crushing the grapes, and not filtering or fining of their wines.

They also make it a point to mention their wines are made “for the table not the cocktail glass”  That means having their fruit picked sooner than most, with the decision on when to pick driven by flavor and structure rather than brix.  As a result their wine are lower in alcohol (also trending these days it seems – but my sense is that’s another thing the Brandts were doing long before the pendulum started to swing toward lower alcohol wines)

Donkey and Goat produces wines from white, and red Rhône varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in the Anderson Valley, Mendocino Ridge and the unappreciated El Dorado appellation in the Sierra Foothills.

Donkey and Goat owners Jared and Tracey Brandt were named one of 5 Winemakers To Watch by Jon Bonné of the SF Chronicle in 2011.  They produce about 3,000 cases of wine annually.

The Wine

Donkey and Goat uses an unusual  and rare grape variety for this wine – grenache gris. Grenache Gris, a pink-hued grape that yields white juice, is related to the more common Grenache Noir and Grenache Blanc.  It’s not officially recognized as an official grape variety in California and precious little is grown in France.

The fruit for this wine is made from 98+ year old vines. The blend of free-run and press juice was blended in tank and left to settle for 72 hours before moved to neutral French Oak barrels for both primary and secondary natural fermentation on native yeast. The wine is unfiltered.  As a result, you may find pink sediment in the bottle, particularly as you get to the bottom. The sediment isn’t indicative of a fault of any kind or otherwise adversely affect flavor of the wine.

I like what Alder Yarrow of Vinography says about it…Sediment is a sign of many good things. First and foremost, it is a likely sign that a wine has not been filtered or fined to oblivion. These processes strip things from the wine, and while sometimes that can be good (especially if those things would cause the wine to spoil) most of the time it’s unnecessary and (in my opinion) damaging to the complexity and personality of the wine. Unfined and unfiltered wines taste more honest, and more interesting, all things considered…

2012 A Donkey and Goat Grenache Gris Isabel's Cuvée
2012 A Donkey and Goat Grenache Gris Isabel’s Cuvée

My tasting notes follow:

Slightly cloudy salmon pink color with strawberry, spiced peach, melon and a hint of earthy aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied with medium acidity. It exhibits strawberry, peach, and hints of citrus rind and melon flavors and lingering finish. 100% Grenache Gris. 12.7% alcohol. Unfiltered. 280 cs. produced.

Rating:  A-: Will buy more next year!

Pair with: I very much enjoyed with chicken spinach lasagna, but it’s a very food friendly wine that will compliment most everything on the spring and summer table –  including salads, sides, grilled fish, and vegetables!

>>Find this wine<<

Sample purchased for review 

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

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  1. They have amazing wines! Last night I tried their Lily's Cuvee with a dinner of grilled shrimp. It was delicious.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks for stopping by Fran! I really dig their wines too!

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