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Bonny Doon (USA) Le Cigare Blanc 2003
Randall Grahm of California's Bonny Doon remains one of the most idiosynctratic and brilliant winemakers in the world. Grahm's passion for the wines of Italy (as well as the more commonplace Sangiovese, Barbera, etc he grows freisa, ciliegiolo and sagrantino among others) is matched only by his passion for the Rhône. This is his take on a super-luxury Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc, in the style of Beaucastel's Vieilles Vignes for example. It is 97% Roussanne, with just a dash of white Grenache. At 14.5% alcohol it takes no prisoners, but the striking impression on the nose is of intense, schisty minerality, backed up by honeysuckle and a fine, peachy ripeness of fruit, with a background of buttery vanillin. On the palate this is fairly massive, with terrifically bold, assertive fruit, a leesy richness of texture, and a vice-like grip of intense minerality at its core. This is priced somewhat above our normal 10 limit, but that is allowed now and again for a class act such as this that will also cellar. 15.95, or 14.35 by the case, Berry Bros & Rudd.