What's Open Owen? - May '21 Edition
Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Wine is a product that takes exceptional care and work to be produced. It employs thousands of workers around the world from those picking the fruit, the glass makers, to those who make the barrels that the wine is aged in. It can take years for a bottle of wine to go from the vineyard to your table passing hands from importer, to distributor, and finally the retail store or restaurant. With all of these jobs associated with the process, it is important to realize that wine can be sometimes perceived as romantic, with stories being told about picturesque vineyards and rich history. However, this is not necessarily the reality. The people growing the grapes are not millionaire land owners who make wine as a hobby.
In short, wine making is farming. With farming comes the idea of sustainability, not just for the land itself to continue to produce exceptional grapes for wine making, but for the families who want to pass down their vineyards to the next generation. Let's be frank for a second - Global Warming is very real, and it is really affecting grape growing and wine making. Sustainability, organic wine making, and Biodynamics are becoming increasingly important concepts to be able to continue making this wonderful product.
So, what is organic wine making exactly? Organic wine making is all about ridding the vineyard of unnatural products such as pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. This, in turn, is better for those out working in the vineyards as they are not working around harmful chemicals. Conventional farming was very popular after WW2 with the mass usage of these products, thus starting what is called the pesticide cycle. With more chemicals, the plant needed to be re-nourished often, creating a need for more chemicals. By getting rid of these chemicals and using more natural products, the farmers are finding that it is not only safer to work in the vineyards, but the plants simply grow stronger and produce better tasting wine which, of course, is the goal after all.
Biodynamic wine making is a little bit of a different process. This is more of a philosophy than a practice, and it has to do with seeing the vine in a holistic view and giving natural energy to the plant. Usually, Biodynamic winemakers have been Organic for years before taking the next step to Biodynamics. This has to do with concepts, such as only using horse drawn plows in the vineyard, natural remedies on the vines, and following the phases of the moon. The Lunar Calendar has been used for thousands of years in relation to farming, and the idea behind it is that there are certain days that is better for certain work like planting, pruning and picking.
Now I will admit, I was initially skeptical about the effects of this process, but the wines literally taste better. If you don't believe me, just try some Biodynamic wines for yourself...which brings me to this month's open bottle.
2011 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant Reserve “en bonbonne"
Bonny Doon is a biodynamic vineyard in Santa Cruz, CA using the practices laid out above. This wine is absolutely phenomenal! It is a blend of 37% Mourvèdre, 34% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 9% Cinsault, so it is more in the style of a Souther Rhone blend from France.
Randall Grahm's wine making style is known around the world and has become a real force in California. You can read more about him and his personality here: https://www.bonnydoonvineyard.com/randall-grahm/.
The name "Le Cigare Volant" literally means flying Cigare or "flying saucer" in French. It is Randall's way of poking a bit of fun at the French. In Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Southern Rhone), they had passed a law forbidding the landing of flying saucers in their vineyards because apparently this was a massive issue. Randall capitalized on the fun and produced a wine with a flying saucer on the label with his Rhone Blend.
This wine is a beautiful dark purple color with notes of fresh cherry, mushrooms and an earthy funk. In terms of structure, there is a well balanced acidity and dryness that comes through on a long finish with medium tannins. I would pair a wine like this with anything earthy like pasta in a mushroom cream sauce or anything truffled. I would hold onto this wine for a few more years- realistically 10+.
Have any questions or comments? Don't be afraid to reach out and let me know what you have open this month.