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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:

Winebits 272: Randall Grahm, alcohol ads, wine and health

Is the world upside down? The Wine Spectator’s James Laube writes a mostly favorable profile of Bonny Doon’s irrepressible Randall Grahm. Why is this so odd? For one thing, Grahm has never had any use for the Winestream Media, scores, the kinds of wines it likes, and how the system works. For another, he once wrote of Laube: “I’d rather have a frontal lobotomy than a Laube in front of me.” Laube mostly let bygones be bygones: “The latest wines are striking for their structure and individuality. …” Though, in true Winestream Media fashion, only one of the four wines reviewed in the piece scored higher than a 90. Which, given my experience with Grahm’s wines, once again emphasizes how useless scores are.

Ban ‘em all! A British doctors’ group wants to phase out all alcohol advertising as part of its latest campaign to tackle the country’s drinking problem. The Alcohol Health Alliance says children need to be protected from booze ads; hence its plan to restrict them to newspapers and magazines with an adult readership. Eventually, all ads and sponsorships for alcohol products would be banned. This is an amazing proposal from the country that gave the world civil liberties in the Magna Carta, and raises all sorts of constitutional questions. I wonder: What would Horace Rumpole, whose love of cheap wine was surpassed only by his respect for Magna Carta, ”our ancient rights of freedom,’“ say to the doctors?

One more silly claim: The Wine Curmudgeon would be happier if health claims for wine would be banned, which I’ve done here on the blog. The only reason I’m mentioning this one is that it demonstrates why all of this is so foolish. Red wine, in moderation, can help old farts like the WC make women happy. Does this mean my natural charm isn’t enough?

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