Wine of the Week; 2011 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2011 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare

The Winery

Bonny Doon Vineyard, located in Santa Cruz, CA was established in 1983 by the inimitable Randall Grahm, a man of many interests, not the least of which is “thinking of fiendishly cunning stratagems for producing wines which express a sense of place and which actually make the world a more interesting burg“. He’s an interesting man. In fact, as I write this, based on what I know of him from his bio, and blogs about Bonny Doon, and social media, the first thing that popped into my head is that he could be the real life “Most Interesting Man in the World” (This from his Twitter profile – “Founder, Winemaker, Terroirist/Vinachrist and Prez-for Life @BonnyDoonVineyd, Defender of the Misunderstood and Underappreciated Doon-trodden Cépages of the Earth” - peep the bio here).  The wines Bonny Doon produces are a reflection of Grahm – they’re thoughtful, eclectic, often unique, and interesting wines. )  Sure, the packaging is clever with inventive names, and beautiful art work.  But don’t let the slick marketing fool you (Hell, I enjoy looking at the website because it’s just plain fun to read the marketing spiel) into thinking the wines don’t live up to the hype. The wines are seriously good.

My first visit to Bonny Doon was a couple of years ago. I’m a Rose fiend,and I’d heard good things about Bonny Doon’s. On top of that I’d read good reviews of the co-located restaurant (at the time – the Cellar Door – since April this year re-branded as Le Cigare Volant, same as their signature Syrah)  We had a fantastic meal there, and while we went for the 2010 vintage of this wine, we actually preferred their other Rosé the 2009 A Supposedly Clever…Rosé – a puncheon fermented in 100% new wood.  Um…last time saw a Rose produced that was never!  It turned out to be a happy (and quite tasty) accident.

We returned about couple of months ago to eat at the restaurant and do some tasting.  I’m glad we diid…I was saddened to learn according to the restaurant would cease operations on December 31!  The restaurant has straight up novel and delicious fare. (see pics below)…I definitely recommend.  Try to get there before year-end!

We had a wonderful meal, and a great tasting (picked up this wine and few others) even had a chance to see Grahm (he was there our last visit too…the man puts in work).

The Wine

Yes…it’s the middle of December, and I’m drinking the quintessential summer wine – Rose.  Having flashbacks to the long warms days of summer? Nah, (OK..maybe just a little) I just know that Rosé is one of the most food friendly wines one can drink. So I buy a couple of cases of the stuff every year and drink it all year-round (in fact, a Rose was the best wine I with my Thanksgiving meal this year)

This Rose is a bit different from most because it’s not made exclusively from red wine grape varieties.  Bonny Doon adds two white grape varieties - Roussanne and Grenache Blanc – to what would otherwise be typical Southern Rhone red varieties. According to Bonny Doon..

 …we find the addition of mineral-rich white wine adds incremental gravitas without creating ponderousness–a mortally dangerous element in a perfect apéritif wine.

They also employed the practice of bâtonnage–an Old World technique of the stirring or re-suspension of lees after fermentation–to add creaminess to the texture of the wine.

Boony Doon  Vin Gris de Cigare

2011 Boony Doon Vineyards Vin Gris de Cigare

My tasting notes follow:

Pretty salmon pink color with citrus, red fruit, and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied and fruity with good balance and acidity followed by cherry, strawberry, and citrus flavors. Medium-long finish. 

Rating: Highly Recommended…This one goes on my buy every year list when I stock up on Rosé!

Pair with: I paired with Crockpot ChickenSpaghetti because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with a red or white wine. I had a feeling this wine would be a wonderful match and…SCORE!  This is a food friendly wine that will pair well with a variety of cuisines (It will be a great wine for upcoming Holiday meals) including charcuterie, many popular Mexican, Indo-Paki, Thai, Vietnamese dishes, along with a variety of salads, poultry and seafood. 

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 14.3% alcohol.
  • Closure: Screwcap
  • AVA: > California>Central Coast
  • Grape Varieties: 73% Grenache, 10% Mourvédre, 8% Grenache Blanc, 5% Roussanne, 4% Cinsault
  • Cooperage:
  • Retail: $16
  • Cases produced: 5,400
  • Drink: now – 2014
  • >>Find this wine<<

This above wine was purchased for review

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Wine of the Week; 2008 Unti Vineyards Grenache

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2008 Unti Vineyards Grenache.

The Winery

Unti Vineyards is a small family-owned and operated winery that specializes in Zinfandel, Rhône, and Italian varietals.  The winery was co-founded in 1997 by George and Linda Unti, and their son Mick Unti.  Mick manages all winemaking, sales and marketing for the winery. Sébastien Pochan is the winemaker.

The Unti’s farm 60 acres of vineyards in Dry Creek Valley.  When one thinks of Dry Creek valley wines, Zinfandel is top of mind. Italian varietals like Barbera, Sangiovese, Montepulciano are not.  However, the Unti’s are producing four bottlings of Italian varietals that have found success.

All of the Unti’s grapes have been biodynamically farmed since 2004.

My wife and I discovered Unti Vineyards in 2010 when we attended Passport to Dry Creek Valley. We returned a few times since then and have alway enjoyed their wines.

The Wine

This “Southern Rhône style” wine is primarily based on Grenache Noir.  The fruit come from their creekside vineyard, planted in 1998.  The budwood for the Grenache was obtained from Tablas Creek and Alban Vineyards.  According to Unti..

These clonal selections, all from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, give darker color and better structure than the majority of the Grenache clones planted in California

In addition to Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre are added for color, body, and complexity. 40% of the fruit for this blend is whole cluster fermented.

Wine of the Week: Unti Vineyards 2008 Grenache

Wine of the Week: Unti Vineyards 2008 Grenache

My tasting notes follow

Nearly opaque violet color with red fruit, white pepper, and anise aromas. Initially the nose was closed in. It opened up with a little air time. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied, fresh and balanced with raspberry, and cherry  and spice flavors. Medium finish – 89pts

Rating: Recommended; This is my kind a Grenache!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 14.5% alcohol.

Closure: Cork

AVA: > CaliforniaSonoma CountyDry Creek Valley

Varietal(s): 75% Grenache, 13% Mourvedre, 12% Syrah

Cooperage: 13 months 620 gal French oak foudres, 2 yr-old French oak barrels

Retail: $26

Cases produced: 715

Purchased for review

Red Rhone Smackdown!…Six wines, one winner!

It was Red Rhone night for our community wine tasting club, the Pacific Pointe Wine Tasting Club. Our intention was to have red Rhone blends, but a couple of Rhone varietals were brought to the tasting, so we included in the competition. I was a bit surprised that all the Rhone blends were from France given that California produces so many fine red Rhone blends.  It was our first time tasting so many French wines.  As I found out later, that played a significant role in how the wines were scored.

We blind tasted a total of 6 wines. There were 4 Rhone blends from France, a Petite Sirah from California and a Shiraz from Australia. The wines ranged in price from $5-15.

The lineup...

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2009 Serabel Côtes du Rhône - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
    Garnet color with dark fruit, cedarwood, and a hint of mint aromas. On the palate one-dimensional, and angular with a tad too much acidity, and dark cherry, vanilla, mineral and spice flavors. Short finish.
  • 2009 Bogle Vineyards Petite Sirah - USA, California
    Dark, approaching inky garnet color with leather and dark fruit aromas. On the palate, it was bright with well-integrated tannins, and plum, dark cherry, mineral, and spice flavors. Medium finish.
  • 2009 Château Pesquié Côtes du Ventoux Terrasses - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Ventoux
    Dark garnet color with earthy, slightly funky dark fruit and leather aromas. On the palate medium-bodied, creamy, balance with blackberry, dark cherry, and spice flavors. Medium finish 70% Grenache/30% Syrah
  • 2009 Cave de Rasteau Côtes du Rhône Villages Rasteau Les Peyrieres - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages Rasteau
    Garnet color with earthy, dark fruit, and spice aromas. On the palate, light-bodied, thin and somewhat tannic with tart cherry, and spice flavors. Short-medium finish. 70% Grenache/20% Syrah/10% Mourvedre
  • 2009 Domaine Grand Veneur Côtes du Rhône Reserve - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
    Dark garnet color with earthy, dark fruit aromas. On the palate, light-bodied, easy, and fruit forward with the cherry, raspberry, and vanilla flavors. Short finish. 70% Grenache/20% Syrah/10% Cinsault
  • N.V. Little Roo Shiraz - Australia, South Eastern
    Garnet colored with tight nose, and simple red fruit aroma. On the palate, light-bodied with baked, raisiny one-dimensional cherry flavor. Short finish. 
And the winner….

2009 Cave de Rasteau Côtes du Rhône Villages Rasteau Les Peyrieres - Average score = 86.4

The average score for the winner was a bit lower than it has been for our wine tasting club.  My theory is that it was the first time many of our members experienced what I refer to as the “French funk” – the earthy, tobacco, barnyard smell that’s not unusual to find in French wines.

The first and second runners up were the Bogle Petite Sirah, and the Château Pesquié Côtes du Ventoux Terrasses with average scores of 84.8, and 84.2 respectively.