I’ve had only a few straight Syrahs from Bonny Doon Vineyard and I’m a little surprised at that considering Randall Graham’s the original Rhone Ranger and responsible for a lot of the attention that rhone varieties get these days in California. I jumped at the chance to try a few when they offered a 20% off sale recently and I’m glad I did. So much has been written about Randall and his somewhat esoteric yet intelligent marketing and business style. Seven years ago Randall pulled back from what had become a rather behemoth wine company and sold off some of his super market brands to go back to smaller more terroir-focused wines. The results have been somewhat mixed in the larger world but from the perspective of most wine insiders it could not have been a better decision.
On first opening, I was a little surprised at how new world this wine tasted. I thought it was going to be more restrained and more savory. I enjoyed it but I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t the cool-climate gem that I thought it might be. Turns out it just needed some more air to let the earth aromas come out. After a night on the counter with the screw cap tightened, the wine released lots of black olive and pepper aromas. There was still a nice core of black cherry and blackberry fruit with a nice perfumed lift but it was couched in this beautiful minerality and savoriness that seemed absent on first opening. There’s a beautiful plum undertone and an exotic spice that I can’t quite place. The acidity on the mid-palate transitions into a good acidic lift. Wow, this is good stuff. I wish I had just opened it and left it on the counter the whole night before I drank it at all. If you buy a bottle I suggest that’s what you do.