Bonterra Wines Reviewed, Organically Grown Grapes Make Wonderful Wine

Bonterra Winemaker Bob Blue

The night before our good friends, Dottie and Suru, left for Egypt, we shared a potluck dinner, a DVD, and several bottles of Bonterra wine. Our intimate dinner began with a variety of Indian appetizers (from Little India in Chicago), followed by salmon and red snapper accompanied by a spinach and beets salad. Dessert was fruit, chocolate dipped strawberries and Indian sweets.

Dottie and Suru taste Bonterra

These were the wines that enhanced the food and added to the evening's festive mood:

Viognier 2005, Mendocino County the varietals are blended in the following proportions:

Viogner 85%
Marsanne 10%
Roussanne 3%
Muscat 2%

The group of four tasting the wine believed this Viognier to be more flavorful than the typical variety and detected the following flavors: Vanilla, honeysuckle and apricot. It is nicely colored with a honey-gold hue. Even though Muscat is 2% we experienced effervescence. The slight sweetness was very well balanced with the acidity. Aging in oak gives a note of vanilla. The wine complemented the complex flavors of the Indian foods.

Syrah 2003, Mendocino County the varietals are blended in the following proportions:

Syrah 91%
Petit Syrah 7%
Viogner 2%

We were reluctant to have a syrah with the fish (salmon and red snapper). However, this syrah, unlike others we have tried, was lighter and almost as subtle as pinot noir. We drank the syrah slowly and it became mellower with each sip. It was velvety smooth, with the hint of blackberry and chocolate noted, enhancing the flavors of the fish and salad and improving our dining experience.

Muscat 2005, Lake County

Muscat 100%
Alcohol 9%

This dessert wine is not intensely sweet. It has a refreshing, smooth clean-fresh taste, which reminded us of persimmon. There is a hint of sweetness, which is contrasted by the undertone of lip-puckering tartness. It was the perfect complement to the dessert of stuffed figs and was very pleasant with the pistachio gelato.

Dinner with Bonterra

A few weeks later, an international group of individuals originally from Argentina, Holland, China, France, and also California were present at a small dinner party honoring a French visitor. This was an occasion to explore three additional wines and our French visitor was put to the test in comparing the Bonterra wines to French wines. There was guacamole and nibbles followed by poached salmon, chicken breast, wild rice (catered by Convito Italiano in Wilmette, IL) and salad. Dessert was fruit, cookies and chocolates.

"A very good red wine even for California wine"

Chardonnay 2005, Mendocino County

Chardonnay 100%

This chardonnay was fresh and crisp and enjoyed by all. The color was a striking honey-color. The aroma was at first sweet, followed by a pineapple and lemon fruit fragrance. Its taste was refreshing with a citrus-pear flavor, effervescent and clearly a wine to enjoy early in the evening

Roussanne 2005, Mendocino County-the varietals are blended in the following proportions:

Roussanne 91%
Viognier 5%
Marsanne 4%

The comment from the winery notes this blend features 'several Rhone varietals in this blend, from some of our best vineyards in Mendocino and Lake Counties.' This is a complex wine with aromas of apple and pear. The group especially liked this wine for its rich bouquet of fruit flavors and the hint of honey.

Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Mendocino County-the varietals are blended in the following proportions:

Cabernet Sauvignon 84%
Syrah 9%
Petite Sirah 5%
Merlot 2%

This wine was a favorite of the group and perhaps the most complex blend with a rich structure and body. The aroma was berry with a hint of spice and vanilla. To the taste, it had the right amount of sweetness to be very enjoyable. Our French guest thought it was a 'very good red wine even for a California wine,'

Bonterra Vineyards owns or leases more than 1,000 certified acres of organically farmed grapes. More than 500 additional certified organic vineyards in Mendocino County, farmed by independent growers, also supply Bonterra with organically grown grapes. The Bonterra philosophy is stated:

'We honor the land by farming organically, creating rich soils that provide healthy vines an opportunity to deliver wonderfully flavored fruit. In every sip, you'll taste our natural commitment and understand why we believe organic farming creates wines of great taste and excitement, among the best you'll ever experience.'

A toast-so good

Bonterra wines are readily available in markets, including Trader Joe's and Whole Foods in addition to liquor stores and restaurants. With prices ranging from $15.00 to $18.00 a bottle, they are an excellent value in our opinion. Additional varieties can be found at and 1-800-753-4567 option 5 will tell you where to find Bonterra in your area.

The Bonterra Vineyard

Photos: Bonterra Vineyards and Leon Keer

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