AC Wine: Randall Grahm's Great Grenache

Thinking about a cookout? Here's your wine!

courtesy of Bonny Doon Vineyard

Californian winemaker Randall Grahm lives and works in Santa Cruz, which is sort of a soul brother to Austin. The town is dominated by the 17,000 student UC Santa Cruz and, at least by reputation, exists in a never-ending fog of pot fumes. See any similarities?

Like Austin, it’s a delightful town with great coffee and several good restaurants. And like Austin, it is considered to be just a little weird. At least some of that evaluation comes from the presence of Grahm’s Bonny Doon Vineyard. Grahm loves to tweak anyone who exudes self-importance and of course, the wine world is chock-a-block with enough self-important types that Grahm is almost shooting fish in a barrel.

All of this is only a fascinating back story. The main point is Grahm is an exceptional winemaker who creates thoughtful, interesting, and fairly priced wines. In Austin, we get about a fourth of his wide variety of wines, but they are all worthy of your attention. He is famous for his Rhone-styled wines and you can never go wrong with his white, rosé, or red wines labeled Le Cigare Volant. These are his most expensive and carefully made wines.

He also offers wonderful wines priced down into the low teens, but you should consider his Clos de Gilroy Grenache ($20). Gilroy is a farming town known widely for its garlic, so the name is already a bit tongue-in-cheek. But the wine is no joke. It’s a lovely wine filled with red fruit flavors and white pepper aromas, suited for a lusty Italian sausage pasta with a nice hit of, you guessed it, garlic. With Austin's current explosion of upscale Italian restaurants, there is certainly no shortage of that. But keeping in the casual spirit of Grahm and Austin itself, we'd just assume unscrew a bottle for a backyard cookout.

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Randall Grahm, Grenache, Gilroy, garlic, Santa Cruz, Bonny Doon, Cigare Volant

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