Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bonny Doon's Ca' del Solo 2006 Dolcetto

Had the pleasure of visiting winemaker Randall Grahm's new tasting room in Santa Cruz a month ago. The new Bonny Doon digs near downtown is much more slick than the old tasting room, which was buried in the forest and took what seemed like hours to get there via a winding road that took you up, over and down mountains. But it is also super sustainable, with wood from wine barrels and glass from wine bottles used in the facility for booths, lamps and decor.

Grahm has converted his Ca del Solo estate to biodynamic practices, which is hard to explain in a few sentences, but basically combines organic practices (no chemicals allowed) with astronomical schedules for picking and planting. While it's been ridiculed by some as "Voodoo on the Vine" (article here) the winemakers who practice it say it leads to wines that better show terroir. Vinography published a "skeptic's guide to biodynamic wines" in response to the SF Weekly article talking about some of the positive benefits of its approach.

The 2006 Dolcetto ($24) has a nose of sweet cherries, earth, oak and rounded out by a hint of eucalyptus and anise. In the mouth the wine starts off like an Aussie Shiraz with plush red berry notes, though sour cherries soon turn up to give this wine a bitter ending, which is not unusual for the varietal.

The bottle's label likens the Dolcetto, an Italian name that means "little sweet one" to a 280-pound football player dressed in a tutu. I think they have it backwards -- imagine having dinner with a supermodel that spends the entire time swearing like a sailor. Beautiful, sure, yet bracing.

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