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My lunch with Randall Grahm, part II

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Randall Grahm, part IIThis is the second of two parts detailing my recent chat with Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm. Today, reviews of the wine we tasted. Part I — Grahm on wine, winemaking, and the post-modern wine world.

My Boony Doon moment came during the 2011 Le Cigare Blanc. I said I liked it a lot, and Grahm smiled and offered that it would be even better when he added picpoul to the blend, which is currently grenache blanc and roussanne. Which demonstrates his creativity and passion, but also what Grahm admits may be a less than consumer-centric approach to winemaking. It’s not as if wine drinkers are clamoring for a $25 white blend made with three grapes they’ve never heard of.

But how dull the world would be if all we drank were chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. Which, of course, is part of Grahm’s reason for being, and why so many of us appreciate what he does. After the jump, the eight wines and cider we tasted (all were samples):

My lunch with Randall Grahm, part I

randall grahm
randall grahm

Randall Grahm: “Wine has to be pleasurable. You shouldn’t have to ask yourself if you like it.”

This is the first of two parts detailing my recent chat with Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm. Today, Grahm on wine, winemaking, and the post-modern wine world. On Feb. 24, reviews of the wines we tasted.

No one holds court like Randall Grahm, the winemaker and president for life at California’s Bonny Doon Vineyard. Last week in Dallas, in front of a dozen or so retailers, sommeliers, and media types, Grahm discussed the Swiss anthropologist Henri Junod; the role of magnets in winemaking; his efforts to develop grape hybrids and rootstocks that are best suited to the 21st century’s climate and soil; the backlash against screwcaps; and, though I’m not quite sure how, electrons.

Along the way, he punned whenever possible — “The doonside of winemaking,” for example — and even managed to talk about his new wines, including a very subversive fruit cider, a delicious riesling so new it’s not on the winery website yet, and perhaps the best vintage ever of the Le Cigare Blanc. More, after the jump:

Boony Doon and Skinnygirl, the strangest of wine bedfellows

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There they were, one of the most interesting and honest wines in the world sitting next to one of the most manipulated and most cynical.

What kind of cosmic imbalance caused this? How did the trickster of the gods manipulate the retailer's inventory software. Ad think of the embarrassed sidewise glances.

How could Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon Vin de Gris rose – “one of his best roses… austere and fresh and dark,” as I wrote last year  — end up next to Skinnygirl’s pink wine, made not to taste like wine but to contain 100 calories and which Elin McCoy said is “barely acceptable chilled plastic cup party fare?"

Grahm makes wine that tastes like wine. The Skinnygirl, to quote from its producer, Beam, Inc., is a “brand that continues to blaze new trails and is solutions-driven.”

Guess who sells more wine? Is it any wonder the wine business makes me so cranky?

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