Saturday, July 15, 2006

Gundlach Bundschu Winery

This was my second visit to Gundlach Bundschu (hereinafter "Gun Bun"), and it was my favorite winery on both my trips to Sonoma. There's a great vibe about this place. The tasting room is sort of in a cave... dark and woody, but friendly. Established in 1858, this winery has a long and interesting history, which is worth reading about. It is currently run by a father and son, and they have a woman winemaker who clearly knows her business. I believe the best wine I tasted on this whole trip was their $70 a bottle 2001 Vintage Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

In the tasting room, $5 will buy you a "flight of four" wines... but our tasting guy told us not to worry about that, and poured us 7 or 8 generous tastes... including multiple tastes of the 2001 Cab mentioned above. Here are the ones that I thought were standouts.
  • 2003 Pinot Noir - Rhinefarm Vineyard ($32). Black cherry, cranberry, clove, tobacco with a beautiful dark ruby hue. We brought a bottle of this home.
  • 2003 Tempranillo - Rhinefarm Vineyard ($30). Smooth, dense, almost smoky, with cherry and dried fig... this one was great! If I had room in the suitcase I would have bought this as well.
  • 2003 Merlot - Rhinefarm Vineyard ($30). We actually drank a bottle of this the night before we visited the winery. A wonderful, rich, smooth and complex merlot.
  • 2003 Zinfandel - MacLeod Vineyard ($24). Fruity and light/bright with a vanilla and oak aroma, this one was not well received by one of my traveling companions (although I liked it). She dared to call it "sweet" and the tasting guy took umbrage and told her the proper term is "fruity." She never did learn to like red Zins, but I enjoy them.
  • 2001 Vintage Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Rhinefarm Vineyard. ($70). This was an incredible wine. The aroma was worth $20. It was a big, complex, sophisticated wine with a long, long finish. Fantastic! The best of the whole trip - and there were some good contenders.

The tasting guy apparently didn't think we were swirling our wine enough and he did some very exciting demonstrations of swirling, including turning the wineglass on its side (with the wine in it) and rolling it across the counter, and swirling in a most outrageous and violent manner. We thought it was a bit over the top, but when we sniffed the wine, we could absolutely tell the difference. Then he poured some of the 2001 Cab Sav into a decanter and swirled that around for a while before pouring me some to try -- amazingly, it got EVEN better. This was very educational. We really got to taste and smell how exposure to air changed the wine. After that, we swirled like CRAZY for the rest of the trip... and probably will forever. (Of course, there's always the outside chance that this guy was playing a big trick on us, and that at every tasting room we went to afterward people were watching us swirl and saying "oh look, they must have seen Jim over at Gun Bun." But I don't think so).

I HIGHLY recommend the Gunlach Bundschu wines. They are harder to find than some, but well worth the effort.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your review of the Gun Bun 2033 Tempranillo. I am enjoying a glass as I type this comment. It is very yummy...I know that is not what a wine afficianado would say but it works for me!

I love that winery as well and became a 'womer'- great club!

8:11 PM  

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