Bonny Doon Cigare Alternative A 2001

The marketing materials suggested that this wine would greet 2010 “in fine fashion,” so how is it doing in 2009? I never did try it when originally shipped to wine club members many years ago, but here it is now, after two interstate moves; I’m tired of schlepping it around and now it’s time to slug it back.Immediately after opening the bottle, the smell of this stuff managed to overwhelm the homemade tamales I bought from a door-to-door vendor and has for dinner earlier tonight: this stuff is pungent. Boys and girls, the word of the day is Sauerkirschen: this smells like sour cherries, Moravian I suppose, or whatever those large, cheap glass jars contained back when the USSR still existed and you could buy them cheaply at any American grocery store. Whoa. Really strong, bright, dark, sour cherries. There’s also a hint of something that reminds me of freshly polished shoes: a light leathery note with the sharp tang of shoeshine polish. Pretty cool.What this wine taste like? Again, strong, sour cherries with only the faintest hints of darker flavors. There’s also a rather strange, herbal note here that is something like off-brand spearmint mouthwash; that sounds worse than it is, I know, but it’s very distinctive and not something I’ve encountered before. All of this is tightly grasped by still present, still somewhat hoary tannin, which at first was so unpleasant I considered throwing it out – but over time, it does loosen up enough to get past. Overall, the mouthfeel is pretty strange; it’s like a tug-of-war between not-yet-resolved tannins taking place in the shallow end of a pool. The color of this wine is dark and foreboding, yet it all seems fairly medium-bodied in the mouth, which is I suppose normal for a mature wine like this.All in all, I really don’t know what to make of this wine. Is it too old? Probably not. Was it better young? Who knows? Is the overall disorienting mouthfeel a relic of Bonny Doon’s then-obsessions with spinning cones, microbullage, and other weird winemaker tricks? I’m thinking yes; there’s something just not right about this wine, something getting in the way of the direct transmission from Mother Earth. I get the feeling that if Randall Grahm had made this ten years later it would be OK – but as it is, I imagine that he’d be recherching an awful lot of temps perdu if he were to open this puppy now.To paraphrase Stephen Malkmus: A for effort, B for delivery.Bonny Doon Vineyard
Price: $30
Closure: Cork

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