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Robin Garr

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WTN /WineAdvisor: Doon to earth - Uva di Troia

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:19 pm

Doon to earth - Uva di Troia

If you're a wine lover with a sense of humor, it's hard not to get a laugh out of the wild and wacky portfolio of wines, wit and wonder that pour out the doors at California's Bonny Doon Vineyard, where one occasionally wonders just what the irrepressible winemaker-and-proprietor Randall Grahm might be drinking. Or smoking. Whatever.

If you're in the mood for a sample and can sneak out for a brief Friday wine-related time-waster, check out the video, "Vive le Screwcap," which has to be the most, um, unusual presentation on the virtues of alternatives to natural cork that I've seen yet. If you've got plenty of time on your hands, you might as well browse the collection of animated "Doontoons" on the winery website, too.

There's something for just about everyone in Bonny Doon's strange and diverse selection, which includes wines made in California and wines imported from France, Italy, Germany and beyond. To be honest, some of the items aren't for everyone, and a few push the limits for value. The wine that started it all, for instance, <i>Le Cigare Volant</i> - a Chateauneuf-du-Pape look-alike that was perhaps the first California "Rhone Ranger" - is hard for me to justify at the Chateauneuf-level price of $32 for the 2002 at the winery.

But I'm rarely if ever disappointed by his Italian wines imported under the colorful "Il Circo" ("the Circus") label, or his California Italian-style "Ca' del Solo" wines, which are generally affordable and boast mirth-provoking cartoon labels at no extra charge.

One of my "Il Circo" favorites is the Uva di Troia, a very obscure grape variety from Puglia, the "boot heel" of Southern Italy, a region better known for Primitivo and Salice Salentino. The name is sometimes translated "Grape of Troy" for a fancied association with ancient Greece, but Grahm claims that "Troia" actually means "lady of the night" in the sailors' slang of Bari, Puglia's seaport city.

I rated the 2000 vintage favorably in a 2003 tasting; the 2002 vintage, reviewed below, is a bit lighter and more tannic as might be expected of the cooler vintage, but is perhaps a better food wine as a result. Expect the hot-weather 2003, now coming into the market, to be a big boy, powerful and alcoholic. Year in and year out, Uva di Troia boasts a characteristic scent of violets that inspires the label subtitle "La Violetta."

<table border="0" align="right" width="142"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/circ0506.jpg" border="1" align="right"></td></tr></table>Bonny Doon 2002 "Il Circo" Castel del Monte Uva di Troia "La Violetta" ($14.99)

This is a dark ruby wine with a reddish-violet edge. Smoky black fruit adds a floral note, and doesn't take much mental prodding to assume that it's the characteristic violets of Uva di Troia. Ripe and fresh, black fruit and appealing earthiness on the palate; snappy acidity and soft tannins provide ample structure. Rustic and food-friendly, there's no "international-style" manipulation here. U.S. importer: Bonny Doon Vineyard, Santa Cruz, Calif. (May 6, 2006)

<B>FOOD MATCH:</b> You couldn't ask for a better pairing with fennel-scented, lightly spicy Italian sausages and fresh, home-baked foccacia.

<B>VALUE:</B> Fairly priced in the middle teens. (My local shop matched the winery retail price; you may be able to find it for less.)

<B>WHEN TO DRINK:</B> A "lighter" vintage and four years old now, it's probably best to enjoy it over the next year or so.

<B>PRONUNCIATION:</B>
<B>Uva di Troia</B> = "<I>OO-vah dee TROY-ah</I>"

<B>WEB LINK:</B>
Bonny Doon's Website is fun, but just wacky enough that it can be a bit hard to navigate. Here's a direct link to a fact sheet on Il Circo 2002 Uva di Troia.

<B>FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:</B>
Compare prices and locate vendors for Il Circo Uva di Troia on Wine-Searcher.com.
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ScottD

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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Doon to earth - Uva di Troia

by ScottD » Fri Jun 23, 2006 3:47 pm

Our corporate email content filter found something in the subscription email from Robin that triggered this:

:shock:
Violation Information:
The content score (subject) (13 - HMIApproved, Sex/Acts, Sex/Attire, Sex/Nudity, Sex/Personals) violated the content filtering rule Content Filter - Sex.
The content score (body) (128 - HMIApproved, Sex/Acts, Sex/Attire, Sex/Nudity, Sex/Personals) violated the content filtering rule Content Filter - Sex.

:shock:

THE HORROR!!

What think thee the violation?

Screwcap? Lady of the Night? Rhone Ranger? ...on your hands...? ...big boy, powerful and alcoholic? ...spicy Italian sausages...? Ripe and fresh? ...soft tannins? ..."international-sytle" manipulation...?

The possibilities are endless... for shame Robin, for shame! :wink:
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Ian Sutton

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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Doon to earth - Uva di Troia

by Ian Sutton » Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:02 pm

This intrigued me.
I'm assuming this was grown, vinified and bottle in Puglia (otherwise the Castel del Monte designation would be illegal). So is this a re-branded wine, or a winery which Bonny Doon has bought?

In general (and IMO) the QPR for wines from Puglia can be exceptional, though there are enough duds to cloud the issue. It amazes me how they can produce (relatively) complex ageworthy wines for €6-8

regards

Ian
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Robin Garr

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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Doon to earth - Uva di Troia

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:55 pm

ScottD wrote:Our corporate email content filter found something in the subscription email from Robin


Actually there appear to be THREE Wine Advisor readers at your place of business, Scott, and the content filter nabbed all of you. Did you turn the others on to it, or is it just a coinkydink?

As a legitimate Web publisher, stuff like that really outrages me because it's so incompetent and such a waste of your company's resources and mine. I couldn't help noticing that the filtering system was run by ... Norton.

Do you have enough juice at your company to get in the IT people's faces over being clueless, or is this one better left alone? ;-)
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Doon to earth - Uva di Troia

by Robin Garr » Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:57 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:So is this a re-branded wine, or a winery which Bonny Doon has bought?


Ian, as I understand it (and the Bonny Doon Website may shed light on this if you can penetrate Grahm's intentionally addled prose), Bonny Doon actually imports the "Il Circo" range of wines and works with the producer to label them consistent with its program. So Bonny Doon is the importer, not the producer, but the producer agrees to label the wine in accord with the importer's wishes and, I presume, devotes its entire production of this wine to a single buyer. It's a globalization thing ...
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Doon to earth - Uva di Troia

by Hoke » Fri Jun 23, 2006 6:03 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:This intrigued me.
I'm assuming this was grown, vinified and bottle in Puglia (otherwise the Castel del Monte designation would be illegal). So is this a re-branded wine, or a winery which Bonny Doon has bought?

In general (and IMO) the QPR for wines from Puglia can be exceptional, though there are enough duds to cloud the issue. It amazes me how they can produce (relatively) complex ageworthy wines for €6-8

regards

Ian


I agree, Ian, that Puglia can be very interesting. Trouble is, there's an awful lot of flabby plonk being generated down there in areas that are far, far too hot (same thing in the CA Central Valley). Have to be able to differentiate sometime betwee the major sub-regions---primarily between the peninsular areas to the south, sure, but even with Primitivo now there are clearly two areas developing differing styles.

And definitely some good QPR.
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Doon to earth - Uva di Troia

by Ian Sutton » Fri Jun 23, 2006 6:56 pm

Hoke
Yes, I've certainly seen enough flabby (and more recently overly alcoholic) plonk. Get lucky with a producer and the QPR is exceptional, but as you say there's plenty of unimaginative rubbish to wade through.

Some we liked when there last year:
Cappello di Prete (Candido)
I Censi (Masseria Monaci)
and a 97 primitivo (aka Zin) who's name escapes me that was a huge steal at €9 in a restaurant.
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Re: WTN /WineAdvisor: Doon to earth - Uva di Troia

by Dave Erickson » Sun Jun 25, 2006 10:46 pm

Hoke wrote:Trouble is, there's an awful lot of flabby plonk being generated down there in areas that are far, far too hot (same thing in the CA Central Valley). Have to be able to differentiate sometime betwee the major sub-regions---primarily between the peninsular areas to the south, sure, but even with Primitivo now there are clearly two areas developing differing styles.

And definitely some good QPR.


Ladies and Gentlemen, if Cosimo Taurino were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave. :D

Dottore Taurino proved--and his progeny still prove--that it is possible to make very good, very reasonably priced wine in Puglia. That said, the '02 and '03 vintages from the region that I've tasted have been uniformly underwhelming--all the liveliness baked right out of them. Here's hoping for better times and better wines.

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