Thursday, April 11, 2013

Two Rocking Reds From Gun Bun

As far as Sonoma County producers go, Gundlach Bundschu may be one of the hardest to pronounce. (Something like Gun‑lock Bun‑shoe, although it’s often referred to by the punchy abbreviation Gun Bun.) But nothing about Gun Bun is simple.

Based in California’s Sonoma Valley appellation, the history of this family-owned winery dates back to 1858! (The story is so epic that I can’t detail it here, but if you’re interested, the winery provides some fascinating historical context.) They craft a wide variety of white and red wines from their Estate Vineyard, blending in grapes from other nearby plots as well. Gun Bun provides one of the coolest features I’ve seen a winery website: an interactive map of their gorgeous Estate Vineyard.

I had the recent pleasure of drinking two different Gun Bun red blends from the 2009 vintage. Both wines were tasted blind among a host of other quality Napa and Sonoma red blends, yet both Gun Bun wines stood out from the crowd with their class, complexity and unique flavors.

2009 Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvée - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley ($24)
This wine shows some restraint on the nose, but I mean that in a good way. I smell red currant, sour cherry, rose petals, tobacco and some roasted coffee, and it’s all mixed together really well. Tangy acid and fine-grained tannins on the palate make this so easy to drink. Lovely mix of currant, sour cherry, roasted plum fruit, and it all tastes fresh and crisp. Secondary flavors of tobacco, sage, black pepper. A hint of bacon fat on the long finish. Very Old World in its approach, must more nuanced and subtle than bombastic. Still has a good five years of aging potential. A kitchen sink red blend of 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 6% Zinfandel, 3% Syrah, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec. For the price, are you friggin’ kidding me? (91 points)

2009 Gundlach Bundschu Vintage Reserve - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley ($80)
A complex and sure to be long-lived wine. Aromas of smoke, tar and loam accent the pure blackberry and cassis. Juicy and fresh on the palate with ripe but firm tannins and fresh acid. The blackberries, fig paste and caramel flavors are deep, verging on the profound. Rich, but not overbearing. Graphite and cocoa powder last long onto the finish. Delicious now, but this will get incrementally better with five years in the cellar. 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot aged 20 months in 65% new French oak.
(92 points)

Gun Bun makes justifiably pricey wines, but, as the Mountain blend shows, they’re equally dedicated to producing quality wines at solid prices. Hats off, Gun Bun. Hats off.

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