Lunch with Randall Grahm, Bonny Doon founder/winemaker:
“Terroir wines”, he explained, holding a dumpling suspended in midair on a fork and fixing me with a surprisingly prophetic and unmad eyes, “are just too expensive if you’re starting from scratch, as we Americans were and are. Helen Turley tells me that it costs $60,000 an acre to make a terroir wine. Low yeilds, witholding money with no certain outcome, on land with no history. We didn’t inherit thousands of ancient vineyars like the French. So the fruity american style was created by this dilemma-how do you make money? Time is our enemy…I wish we had terroir. But we don’t. I’d like to make a terroir wine before I die. But who knows if I will. I think Americans babbling about their terroir is-as yet-utter bullshit. It’s marketing psychobabble, okay? So I-I go another way. I’m doing what Americans should be doing. I’m experimenting, I’m free to make stuff up, I’m using other elements. I’m playing with fruit. Why not?”
As I pulled away from the Bonny Doon parking lot, I looked in through the brightly lit office window and caught a brief glimpse of Randall Grahm with his stained hands executing a perfect John Travolta move under the shimmering disco ball. Dionysus on silicon Beach.
The Accidental Connoisseur, An Irreverent Journey Through the Wine World by Lawrence Osborne
This passage led me straight to the wine store, feeling somewhat like I had been missing out on something important, in search of something, anything, Bonny Doon, a vineyard I was aware of in name only. What I found was a 2004 Syrah. The cashier even made a comment along the lines of, “I’ve been wanting to try that Syrah for a really long time.”
Since Carey was rouding out a week long Blue Moon/wine timeout, I lacked a tasting partner, which did not bode well for my portion of the blog. But, Friday night was only a day away, so my Bonny Doon Syrah needn’t have to stay inventoried for more than 24 hours.
This is a masterful Syrah. Brick red in color, the 2004 is definately showing positive signs of age. The signature rich floral nose of violets is still unabashed, and the rich black current flavors are delicious. Age likely has further softened the tannins and unfolded the slightest hint of plum, or dates. Le Pousseur still opens with youthful fervor, implying a long-lived and successful career as one of Bonny Doon’s most popular Syrahs.
I may not be the most web-savvy individual, but I was blown away by Bonny Doon’s interactive, and artful, web masterpiece. Randall Grahm, Bonny Doon’s winemaker, offers amazing wine club options, combining the classic cult favorites with a steady stream of one-off, club only releases that will never see a store shelf or a sommeliers cellar. It can all be yours…