Bonny Doon Vineyard began with an attempt to replicate Burgundy in California. Randall Grahm realized early on that he would have far more success working with Rhône varieties in the Central Coast of California. In 1986 Bonny Doon Vineyard released the inaugural vintage of Le Cigare Volant, an homage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and this continues as the winery’s flagship/starship brand. Over the years Bonny Doon became best known for their mass produced Big House Red, Cardinal Zin and Pacific Rim Riesling. Randall later decided that he wanted to focus on making unique, distinct, soulful wines and sold off these larger brands.
I recently had the opportunity to sample some of the best Bonny Doon has to offer.
2014 Bonny Doon Grenache Cuvee R – From Rancho Solo Vineyard. Light rust in color. A little bit cloudy. 14.5% ABV. Dried red fruits, smokes and herbs on the nose. Light body with medium acidity. Strawberries, garrigue and minerals on the palate. Drink over the next 2-4 years. Really delicious, well crafted wine. $48 at the winery. My rating: 93 points.
2013 Boony Doon Syrah Le Pousseur – Magenta in color. 13.5% ABV. Sourced from Bien Nacido, Alamo Creek and Ventana Vineyards. Black fruits, smoke and a heavy dose of bacon fat on the nose. Medium body with medium acidity. Black cherry, olive brine and smoked meats on the palate. The wine comes up a little short on the finish but is well priced at $26 from the winery. My rating: 90 points.
2013 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc Reserve – Straw colored. 14.1% ABV. 55% Roussanne, 26% Grenache Blanc and 19% Picpoul Blanc. Fantastic nose of hazelnuts, stone fruits and fresh flowers. Rich and oily on the palate with medium acidity. Flavors of Meyer lemon , honeysuckle and pears. The finish is long and spicy. This wine just begs to be paired with a creamy pasta or roasted chicken. Drink over the next 3-5 years. $45 at the winery. My rating: 92 points.
2010 Bonny Doon Sparkling Albariño – Gold in color. 12.5% ABV. Small beads. Sourced from Jespersen and Rancho Solo Vineyards. Yeast, toast and peaches on the nose. Medium acidity. Green apples and pears on the palate. Delicious, unique and refreshing. So much to like here. Drink in the next few years. $36 at the winery. My rating: 92 points.
2014 Bonny Doon Cinsaut Counoise – Light crimson in color. Almost translucent. 13.7% ABV. 67% Cinsaut and 36% Counoise sourced from Camp Four, Alder Springs and Michael David Vineyards. Exotic nose of red fruits, wet pavement and pine needles. Light and delicate with strong acidity. Cherries, cranberries, earth and minerals on the palate. Simply unique and intriguing. Drink over the next 2-4 years. $35 at the winery. My rating: 91 points.
2011 Boony Doon Le Cigare Volant Reserve – Magenta in color. 14.5% ABV. 37% Mourvedre, 34% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 9% Cinsaut. Aged for 20 months sur lie in five gallon glass carboys! Red fruits, forest floor and game on the nose. Silky and seamless on the palate. Flavors of garrigue, herbs, cherries and plums. Supple tannins on an amazing finish. Stunning wine. It is clear why this is the wineries flagship bottling. Drink over the next 5-7 years. $79 at the winery. My rating: 95 points.
Without exception this was a great set of wines. Well crafted and fairly priced. As an aside the wines are also attractively packaged and each bottle was under screw cap. Tasting these wines has truly opened my eyes to the passion that Randall Graham is pouring into Bonny Doon. I would advise you to shop accordingly.
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