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Four Doon Pinks and More

While we often tell anyone who will listen that we enjoy dry rosé throughout the year here at Gang Central, I have to admit, there is something very special about drinking pink as the weather warms and the world emerges from its winter slumber. One of our favorites over the last several years has been Bonny Doon Vineyards’ Vin Gris de Cigare, for its delicious old world character. Frankly, the folks at Doon put out yummy stuff pretty much across the board, and when we found out that they’ve added three new bottlings to go with the Vin Gris, we just had to try them all. (I especially like the fact that all four are labeled as “Pink Wine.”) We started out with the latest vintage of our tried-and-true delight. (Click images to enlarge.)

2015 Bonny Doon Vineyards Vin Gris de Cigare Central Coast Pink Wine, 44% Grenache, 20% Grenache Blanc, 12% Carignane, 11% Mourvèdre, 7% Cinsaut, 6% Roussanne, 13.5% alc., $18: Pale pink in color, with classic dry rosé character, offering mineral-driven strawberry and cherry flavors and aromas. Medium bodied, with zippy acids and good length. So consistent from vintage to vintage, this is probably my favorite domestic pink; it’s certainly in my top three. It does everything I want a good rosé to do. Find this wine

It seems only fitting that, since Bonny Doon added a white Bordeaux-styled offering called Gravitas as a pale companion to their “A Proper Claret” bottling, a pink version would be created as well, and so we have the following selection. As Randall Grahm puts it, “…while the Vin Gris de Cigare is intended for more sober-minded occasions, this is definitely the less buttoned up in style.”

2015 Bonny Doon Vineyards A Proper Pink California Pink Wine, 69% Tannat, 31% Cabernet Franc, 13% alc., $16: Considerably darker in color than the Vin Gris with its raspberry pink hue; rich and fairly ripe raspberry and strawberry flavors, underscored with some minerality. This has more weight and density than the Vin Gris, with an almost cherry stick quality, and just a hint of brown sugar lurking, with the emphasis on the “brown” rather than the “sugar.” This can actually overpower its paler partner in this side-by-side, but both are tasty and enjoyable when considered on their own terms. I slightly prefer the Vin Gris de Cigare for its classic style. Find this wine

As far as I can tell, this is our first experience with Ciliegiolo, “a close relative to Sangiovese (either its parent or offspring),” according to RG, who added, “While it had been our original intention to produce this wine as a red, the grapes rather distinctly expressed their preference to be pink.”

2015 Bonny Doon Vineyards Il Ciliegiolo Rosato Tracy Hills Mt. Oso Vineyards, 100% Ciliegiolo, 12.4% alc., $24: Raspberry pink color that borders on being red; earthy and fairly intense raspberry and strawberry flavors and aromas make for a wine that is by no means a wallflower rosato. Medium bodied and fairly dense, with good acids and length. This is our first encounter with Ciliegiolo, and it works well for making pink wine, this one being rich, fairly ripe and a little herbaceous. A DEWN Club selection. Find this wine

2013 Bonny Doon Vineyards Vin Gris de Tuilé Central Coast Brick Pink Wine, 55% Grenache, 23% Mourvèdre, 10% Roussanne, 7% Cinsaut, 3% Carignane, 2% Grenache Blanc, 13% alc., $20: Randall was upfront about this one in the press release, and spot on; it’s not for everyone. Brick pink in color, bordering on orange, with what Rebecca Poling describes as “olive, almonds and sherry” flavors, and that subtle sherry-like quality isn’t lost on me. I liked Kim’s description as well; she commented that “it’s like drinking caramelized brown sugar water.” Medium bodied, with very good acidity and length, this is a wine that is perhaps provides more intellectual interest than sensual for this taster, and while I don’t dislike it, I didn’t pour myself a second glass and I probably wouldn’t buy it. An Online Exclusive. Find this wine

Besides the four pinkos, we also received samples of the two latest Le Cigare Volant Réserve “en bonbonne” bottlings, in both red and white. We’re acquainted with previous vintages of each, which we have enjoyed immensely, so we opened these on a lovely spring Sunday evening a few weeks ago.

2011 Bonny Doon Vineyards Le Cigare Volant Réserve “en bonbonne” California, 37% Mourvèdre, 34% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 9% Cinsault, 14.5% alc., Regular price $79.00, Sale priced at $60.00: Deep and dark in color, with earthy brown flavors; earth, forest floor and leather over black plum. Full bodied and very well structured for many years in the cellar; tannins have a serious grip on this right now, so patience is advised, and will be rewarded. As is usually the case with these, about as close to a New World approximation of a southern Rhone as you’ll find. That’s a damned good thing, in my book. Vineyard Sources: .5% Ventana, 20% Del Barba, 14% Rancho Solo, 12% Evangelho, 10.5% Bien Nacido, 10% Alamo Creek, 9% Bechtold, 3% Gonsalves. Find this wine

2013 Bonny Doon Vineyards Le Cigare Blanc Réserve (en bonbonne) Arroyo Seco Beeswax Vineyard, 55% Roussanne, 26% Grenache Blanc, 19% Picpoul, 14.1% alc., $45.00: Medium color, rich and pretty, with a tinge of lemon; dense, almost thick, with a little lanolin thing going on, along with good minerality and a streak o’ citrus. There’s no mistaking the white Rhone character here, and this has the depth and structure to age and develop over the next several years. It opens nicely with air, and pairs well with grilled smoky chicken, but cellaring will be best for this. I’d love to try it again in 3-5 years. Find this wine

The following two Doon whites were both purchased here in Day-twah. We’re no strangers to their Albariño, but this was our first serious exposure to the aforementioned “Gravitas.”

2014 Bonny Doon Vineyards “Gravitas” California, 54% Semillon, 43.5% Sauvignon Blanc, 2.5% Orange Muscat, 13.5% alc., $16.00: Clean, medium straw in color; rich fruit, gravelly minerality and zippy acidity set the tone here, with green apple and gooseberry flavors and aromas. Medium bodied, with nice density, and like so many BD whites, more Euro in style than New World, and I’m good with that. Very satisfying to sip on its own, but an obvious fish and fowl kind o’ wine. Vineyard sources: 30% Yount Mill, 28% Jack McGinley, 24% Steele, 15% Fortress, 3% Ventana. Find this wine

2014 Bonny Doon Vineyards Albariño Monterey County, $18.00: Another excellent Doon Albariño, showing clean, medium color, and delivering rich green apple, lime and mineral flavors and aromas. Medium body, with good intensity and length and racy acidity. A little riper than its Spanish counterparts, but not much, and so good, I had to have an extra glass. (It’s sold out on the BD website, but you can still find this at various retail outlets.) Find this wine

Reporting from Day-twah,


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  5. A Wacky Doon Sparkler and More

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