We'll get straight to the point--the 2008 Bonny Doon Ca' del Solo Albariño, $20, is a triumph. This is a dead ringer for a Spanish Albariño. We even find it more enjoyable than the Spanish Albariños you are most likely to encounter, such as Burgans. The delicacy of Bonny Doon's version is enhanced by the wine's low alcohol, for California--it weighs in at 12.8%.
For those unfamiliar with the variety, Albariño tastes something like a muted Riesling. The flavors are of stone fruit and a hint of citrus, but those flavors, and the wine's acidity, are less intense than is typical for Riesling. It hails from the northwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula, where it is a major grape in Galicia's Rias Baixas region, and, as Alvarinho, in Portugal, where it is a principal component of Vinhos Verdes.
We are delighted that the wine is so good. We have long been fans of Bonny Doon and its founder, Randall Grahm. His sense of humor and his eagerness to laugh at the overinflated egos of so many involved in wine have provided wonderful respite from an industry that often takes itself far too seriously. But we have not had much of their wine lately.
The Bonny Doon empire is under reconstruction at the moment. A few years back Grahm decided that the company had grown too large for him to pursue his vision. He sold off large chunks of it and is now focused on his goal of producing wines that truly express their origins. This Albariño is evidence that he is on the right track.
Bonny Doon sent us this wine along with Grahm's new book, Been Doon So Long, and a bottle of the 2005 Le Cigare Volant, Bonny Doon's flagship, Chateauneuf-du-Pape-inspired red wine. We will consume both in due time and report on our findings.