Thursday, May 19, 2005

Yadda Yadda Yadda: 2003 Ca' del Solo Big House Red

I'm going to be honest. I've been wanting to buy this bottle for a couple of weeks now, but was afraid that my husband would laugh at me. He's not a fan. But I've had a secret love for the Bonny Doon wines for a long time, ever since I was given a bottle of Heart of Darkness, adorned with Ralph Steadman's handywork. Not only did I think it was beyond the coolest thing conceivable to drink from a bottle thus adorned, but I liked the wine...not because it was really tasty, but that it wasn't. It was a perfect expression of the promise of it's name. In other words, if you were actually reading the Robert Conrad novella, this was precisely the wine to drink while doing so.

If you visit the Bonny Doon site, you quickly learn that their concept is not about producing comercial contenders. Their goal is to "champion the strange, esoteric, ugly duckling varietals of the world", and to experiment. I love that. I don't think it's a journey every wine maker should take, but I'm damned glad someone is. I like that they think of the chemistry of wine as their playground, rather than something that must be harnessed and mastered. I'm also glad that they've found artists and marketing strategists that are on-board with the concept.

This wine is by no means exemplary of what the Bonny Doon boys do. The Big House line is probably the most well-known and commercially successful of their products. However, true to their promise, this kitchen-sink red is stuffed with every conceivable varietal, both conventional and not-so:
Viz (???)
Syrah
Petite Sirah
Zinfandel
Carignane
Barbera
and last but not least, Malbec.

You might wonder aloud, "Well, hell, if they just swept up the floor and threw it all in, what difference do all these grapes make?"

I'd have to answer: not a whole lot. But still, it's a friendly enough little wine under ten bucks. I wanted something soft and fruity (another justification for grabbing it), and here's what I got:

Rustic and tucked in on the nose, it is soft and amiable on the palate, with restrained but slightly savory, grapy fruit, decent acidity, and soft tannins. Not great, but not bad. I'd put it in the pizza wine category, and might even be suckered into getting it again because the etched, stylishly colored label is so effing cool.

Okay, I'll resist. There are bottles I like far better for the under-10 category. But I have not yet done with this Bonny Doon business. I'll report back as I discover more of their juice.

Clinkies.

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