91 Points, Wine Enthusiast ~ 40% Merlot, 24% Petit Verdot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec
$16.00 per bottle / $172.80 per case
$13.60 per bottle / $153.60 per case
Some cautionary words: Bonny Doon Vineyard is, as we all know or should know, a strictly cabernet-free zone, at least it has been for the last twenty-nine years. The last “Claret” nominally produced at Bonny Doon Vineyard was in 1985 from grapes grown at our late Estate in the eponymous hamlet of Bonny Doon. It was a blend of approximately equal parts of cabernet sauvignon, cab. franc, merlot and malbec, and against all expectation, was actually pretty damn good.
Randall Grahm, owner and winemaker, has expressed indifference, occasionally bordering on amused disdain, for this popular grape variety. We are not really at liberty to say how Bonny Doon Vineyard has come to be entrusted with the distribution of a wine made from such improbably alien grape varieties, but suffice to say that the deal was doon grudgingly and harumphingly.
So, with these caveats, the sentiment at Bonny Doon Vineyard
is that if we ever were to drink a cabernet-based blend, this
would be one that would serve quite well. It is lean, neither
overly alcoholic (weighing in at 13.2%) nor overly extracted,
nor overly oakèd; it is precisely what one would imagine A
Proper Claret to be. It is slightly ironic that the über-negativity
heaped upon the hapless Right Bank cépage, Merlot, from the
film, “Sideways,” has actually resulted in a tremendous overall
improvement in California’s extant plantings of the grape,
and for that we have been the beneficiary. The characteristic
softness of Merlot is certainly an important feature of this
wine; the substantial dollop of Petit Verdot (24%) has added
a silky note of violets and textural elegance. There is still
a lovely minty, cedary aspect to this wine, reflective of its
perfect balance, with nary a prunish note to be found.
Now, as to the label. What can we say? We are just scandalized,
sputteringly unable to countenance the opportunistic wine
marketeers who would stoop to using lurid imagery merely
to sell a bottle of wine. Has it really come to this? It is only
because we enjoyed the wine so much that we are willing
to put up with the tasteless monstrosity that is this label.
“Proper” (!?!) Claret? Indeed.
Food Pairing Notes
Proper (British) mutton, proper leg of lamb, (ideally served
with proper Yorkshire pudding). All joking aside, this wine is delicious with a wild mushroom risotto, roasted turkey roulade, or smoked duck. As we head in the fall and winter months, this is absolutely the wine you'd want in your glass on a chilly evening by the fire.