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Wine of the Week

News From Bonny Doon

By Wes Marshall, Fri., Oct. 12, 2012

Happy family: Randall, Amelie, and Chinsu
Happy family: Randall, Amelie, and Chinsu

My wife and I are in Santa Cruz visiting with Randall Grahm, the Grand Imperial Poobah of Bonny Doon Vineyard. I was expecting a placid Randall since he has sold off both the multinational Big House and large, award-winning Pacific Rim brands. Instead, he was his normal, worried self, fretting over making perfect wines. We tasted through a half dozen fermenters and barrels to get an idea of the 2011 and 2012 vintages and were especially excited by the Grenache, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. Then, he stopped us and appeared ready to impart some wisdom. "I want to tell you something your readers might be interested in," he said. "I'm coming to Texas to try to find some historic rootstocks. It might be a fool's errand, but I think there are some possibilities in your state. I think Munson was onto something, and I'm hoping to find some ancient rootstocks that we'll be able to use here to grow grapes that will resist all sorts of diseases." This will be the first time in over 100 years anyone has paid any real attention to Texas' native grapes.

We also did a tasting with Grahm and his significant others. "I am unabashedly in love with vins de terroir," he told us. "They are the wines that I aspire to make and the only ones that really matter." All around the table agreed, even young Amelie. We tried nearly everything, but, as always, I adored his Le Cigare Volant wines. These come in Rouge, Blanc, and Rosé versions, and are consistently some of my favorite American wines. The Rosé is the most common locally because it goes perfectly with our barbecue and Tex-Mex food. But I also love the crisp and addictive Blanc. If it had a French label on it, it would go for double its price. And the elegant red ideally reflects Grahm's Francophile leanings. Bonny Doon wines are recommended throughout their price range and are available at better wine shops around town at anywhere from $14-$45.

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