Friday, April 07, 2006

Bonny Doon: Is the Magic Gone?

Hell no.

It seems like every time I mention Bonny Doon, someone's got to moan about them "going corporate", as though they've sold out completely and the magic's all gone.

Aw, c'mon, what if they pump out all that Big House juice? It's not horrible stuff, and I can think of a lot of other shite in that price range that people could be drinking. And yeah, it's a little spooky, the fact that the whole marketing of Doon seems so...irresistible to a certain group of wine folks (myself included). And also that they have a disturbingly corporate "Join Our Team!" recruitment video on their site.

Okay, all these things are creepy. But look: as long as they keep producing the joyous, boisterous, often dark humored art on the bottles and keep putting smile-inducing, interesting, biodynamic wines within, they can do all the selling out they want.

I made my pilgrimage to the tasting room outside of Santa Cruz this week, and despite that fact that it was positively pissing outside the entire day, I couldn't have arrived at a better time. A group of restauranteurs were present to check out all the current releases, so there were several bottles open that aren't normally shown to the unwashed masses. So despite my unwashedness, the cheerful Tasting Room Associate let me sample some of the exclusives. Yay! My fave was the 2004 Cabernet Franc (first photo above, on the right side). How shall I describe it? Normally, Cab Franc from California seems big and oaky and dusty, but this one is more like the Chinon style, leaner with pretty high floral stuff going on. Fabulous color somewhere deep in the shades of magenta. I likey very much.

Also on the exclusives list was the 2004 Chenin Blanc. Have you ever had a wine a wine that from the first whiff to the back end of the palate tasted exactly as if you'd taken a bite out of one particular fruit? This wine was all white peach. Maybe a touch of floral, and nothing close to sweet, but it was crying out for some Thai food. Yum.

Alas, I could buy neither, but was glad to have tried them. And I'm kinda glad they're exclusive, and that Mr. Graham makes something new and wacky every year. As long as he lives and breathes (fifty more years, please) the magic of Doon will be there.

I've been in San Francisco for the many days? Whew, I have never in my life done so much walking. All over Japantown, all over the Mission and Castro, all up into the Muir Woods. I'll catch up on all the highlights when I get to my next stop: Napa.



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