Bonny Doon (www.bonnydoonvineyard.com) is a funny namefor a serious winery, but winemakerRandall Grahm adores experimentingwith words to makenames as much as he adores experimentingwith grapes to make wine.
Consequently, the 6 bottles of wineI obtained for an upcoming dinner/wine tasting all had 1-of-a-kind labelsand were only available throughGrahm's Distinctive Esoteric Wine Network(866-666-DEWN).
AN ENCHANTED EVENING
Bella Mangiata Caffe (650-343-2404) in San Mateo, Calif, is an authenticsouthern Italian restaurant, completewith paper table-coverings. Itprovided the perfect backdropto a wonderful evening ofwining and dining. Good food,a relaxed atmosphere, impeccableservice, and a corkage feeof only $7 per bottle put everyoneat ease, including the host.
Our quaint dinner party of 9began the evening with achilled bottle of 2001 MuscatL'Etoile as the aperitif. Not toosweet and very aromatic, the2001 Muscat L'Etoile was aninstant hit. The 1999 My FavoriteMarsanne, another eyeopeningwhite wine from a lessthan noble grape, accompaniedthe salads and appetizers. Oursecond white wine ofthe night combinedintense flavor withfabulous mouth-feel.
Two red wines accompaniedthe main course. Our dinnerparty had a choice of salmon,sea bass, or rack of lamb.Despite the fact that someguests ordered fish and someordered meat, no one at thetable fussed about the accompanyingwines. How could theywhen the Italian 2001 Barbarad'Asti Superiore (made in Italyin collaboration with Grahm)was so delicious?
I paired it with the 1999 Fish Out ofWater Ripasso. This special wine is ablend of 3 Italian varietals, which aregrown in California and fermented onRecioto grape skins in a process forwhich Valpolicella is famous.
After dinner, all 9 of us were in suchgood moods and so busy talking thatwe went directly to coffee and port.We enjoyed a bottle of NV BouteilleCall, the "Framboisified Port of Syrah,"a rich, viscous, and raspberry-flavoredport. It was a perfect finale.
Philip R. Alper, an internist andprofessor of medicine at theUniversity of California at SanFrancisco, has been publishedin the Wall Street Journal,Diversion, Medical Economics,and Internal Medicine World Report.