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Wines $20 to $40

A Surprise from Bonny Doon

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I’ll admit it. I didn’t expect much from the 2005 Bonny Doon Vineyard Ca’ del Solo Nebbiolo ($30, buy this wine)—most domestic wines made with Italian grape varieties that I've had have tasted generic at best. But when I stuck my nose in the glass, I couldn’t believe what I smelled: Italy. The wine had those telltale notes of rose petals classic to Nebbiolo, and while it wasn’t as beguiling as a great Barolo or Barbaresco, I still fooled my in-house wine snob. He guessed the wine I poured was a Chianti (not a bad guess, as there were also a lot of licoricey notes, too, common in Chianti). The fruit was ripe but tart and the tannins gripping rather than soft and plush—two qualities that are common in Nebbiolo but that often seem to scare California winemakers. The finish was shorter than I would have liked (I suspect the vines are young), but I’m thrilled to see that even in the U.S., Italian grapes can taste like themselves. —Kristin Donnelly

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