2012BDVClaret2012 Bonny Doon, A Proper Claret, Proprietary Red, California.
Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon Vineyard is one of California’s most innovative and eccentric wineries, making wines that are both gloriously serious and somewhat masterfully humorous, and his foray into a Cabernet Sauvignon based wine is just that. Randall makes the Iconic Cigare Volant, his irrelevant take on Chateauneuf du Pape and is known for his mainly Rhone style wines and focus, even though he loves many wines and is intrigued by numerous grapes. The idea of blending Syrah, Petite Sirah and even Tannat with the classic Bordeaux varietals will make the Downton Abbey watching puritans, well, frown of course, but the dirty little secret is that years gone by, when a Bordeaux vintage wasn’t up to standard, there would be a mid night truck from Hermitage filled with Syrah, a truck loaded with Tannat from Madiran or the like to help make the Chateaux wines much more drinkable, then they’d be shipped off to England for the nobles to enjoy. In that witty context, the new A Proper Claret from Bonny Doon is lots of fun, playful, but it is also a terrific wine with style, personality and a certain rogue handsomeness. The 2012 Bonny Doon, A Proper Claret (Claret is the very English name for a red Bordeaux) is a cue made up of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with a huge dark dose of Petit Vedot both classic Bordeaux grapes, Syrah, that Rhone beauty, along with Tannat a very tannic, black grape found in some west France, but now grown with success in Paso Robles and Monterey County, and Petite Sirah who’s real name is Durif and is famously added to many of your favorite wines secretly or not so secretly. This combination of varietals works fantastically well together and makes for a rich and gorgeous extremely dark wine with juicy forward fruit and nice graceful complexity, this is a compelling deep purple/black wine, it is very generous, perfect for a cold night reading Milton by the fire in the library, and for under $20 it really offers tremendous value, poking many a Bordeaux and Napa wines in the eye with causing riots or chaos, well not too much anyway, this is really a well crafted red that deserves your attention, even if your a hardened wine snob, it is good to laugh at yourself once in a while, life’s short, have some fun. The Proper Claret shows wild blackberry, creme de cassis, plum and blueberry compote, hints of cedar, pepper, graphite, sweet and minty herbs, Hershey bar and liqueur notes with a touch of oak and cinnamon stick. There is some vigor and energy, plus ripe, but firm tannins that give structure and poise, no telling how long lived this might be, but for kicks it might wise or unwise to age a few bottles and see what comes, drink from 2014 to 2019, or? Bravo Randall Grahm, Mr Flying Saucer for keeping it real and keeping us guessing.
($18 Est.) 91 Points, grapelive

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