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2009 Bonny Doon Contra

Combining the pleasantly mineral and grippy character of Carignane with rounder notes from five other grape varieties, this inexpensive offering from Bonny Doon is rather easy-going, despite the contrarian attitude implied in the name (which also refers to Contra Costa County, where most of the grapes come from). That contradictory character may be found in the fact that it is, in fact, so lovely and elegant and pleasant to drink, despite having fairly moderate alcohol (13.5%) and none of the overbearing fruit that so many Californian wines (certainly in that price range) would have you believe is balanced. At $14, there’s a lot of great stuff in there. A great deal—and just a really pleasant wine to drink. Recommended. RC
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Palate Press Wine of the Week: 2010 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare

Another wine, a rosé this time, in Randall Grahm’s own idiosyncratic style. Lovely nose of strawberry, melon, and flowers with a hint of vanilla at the back. Very expressive on the palate, especially for a rosé, with sweet but not cloying fruit notes, with a spine of acid and mineral running through it. Finishes long and clean. Not a wuss rosé and may be just the thing for your summer guests who are rosé-shy (if, like me, they’ve been subjected to too much bad rosé). Try with grilled shrimp. Highly recommended.
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2010 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare

Another wine, a rosé this time, in Randall Grahm’s own idiosyncratic style. Lovely nose of strawberry, melon, and flowers with a hint of vanilla at the back. Very expressive on the palate, especially for a rosé, with sweet but not cloying fruit notes, with a spine of acid and mineral running through it. Finishes long and clean. Not a wuss rosé and may be just the thing for your summer guests who are rosé-shy (if, like me, they’ve been subjected to too much bad rosé). Try with grilled shrimp. Highly recommended.
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2008 Bonny Doon Le Pousseur

A typical offering from Randall Grahm, a winemaker who doesn’t like to do things by halves.  Have to mention the also usual intriguing Bonny Doon packaging—in this case,  a label reminiscent of a medieval tarot card.  Strong notes of black cherry, chocolate, and nutmeg on the nose. Big, expressive blackberry fruit and herb (thyme) on the palate with fine structure to carry it home to a long finish. Hard not to like this one. Try with something from the grill—I think a bit of smoke and char would pair well here. Highly recommended.
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2009 Bonny Doon Vineyard Clos de Gilroy Grenache

Lively, translucent, light purple color. Gorgeous nose of strawberry and blueberry, pepper, slight smoke, meat, and that classic Grenache hint of hard candy. The red fruit continues on the palate with delightful notes of strawberry, rhubarb, and cranberry, that shine through the oak. Silky in the mouth, excellent body, and delivers front and mid-palate, with a pleasant, lingering finish. Very versatile food pairings—poultry, pasta, grilled veggies.
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Rhône Rangers: Distinctive California Wines from Old World Varieties

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the 13th annual Rhône Rangers Grand Tasting in San Francisco, featuring over 500 wines from more than 100 wineries. Rhône Rangers has grown from the original 13 producers to include 200 wineries from California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Michigan, and Virginia. In order to join, a winery must produce at least one Rhône-style wine, comprising a minimum of 75% of one or more of the 22 Rhône grape varieties approved in the Cotes-du-Rhône. Probably the best known of these are syrah, grenache, mourvèdre, and the white threesome of viognier, roussanne, and marsanne.