We were all quite taken aback when we got the news from Bonny Doon Vineyards
. A Cabernet-blend? We at Wine Trends are all about a nice “Cab,” but Randall Grahm, Bonny Doon’s eccentric founder, had made it known, in no uncertain terms, that his feelings toward the popular varietal could most politely be referred to as “amused disdain.” He reassured us, though, that if he ever were to drink and/or produce a Cabernet-based blend, it would really have to be A Proper Claret
And Bonny Doon has created just that. A Proper Claret is a lean, neither overly alcoholic (just 13% ABV) nor overly extracted that contains a substantial dollop of Petit Verdot (22%) which adds a silky note of violets and textural elegance and a lead-in-the-pencil firmness offered by the inclusion of the manly Tannat (8%). There is a lovely suggestion of cedar and mint in the nose and has medium tannins, nice acidity, and finishes cleanly. Priced at $14.99, it’s a wine that even the Cabernet naysayers at Bonny Doon can not only politely tolerate, but downright enjoy.
We’d say that it’s always good to see a winemaker leave his comfort zone, but we’re not sure you could say that Grahm has a “comfort zone.” He describes himself as a man who “enjoys thinking of fiendishly cunning stratagems for producing wines which express a sense of place,” and is considered the “Original Rhone Ranger.”
Grahm’s wine journey began in 1979 when he was still at UC Davis earning his degree in Plant Sciences. Shortly thereafter he purchased some land in the Santa Cruz Mountains with a little help from his family and began his prolific 34 year career as a winemaker, lecturer, and author. In 2009, Grahm collected and carefully redacted his idiosyncratic newsletters and quixotically sincere articles to wine journals, added some fresh, new material, and published it as an award-winning book entitled, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology
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