Dunne on Wine: Edmunds St. John 2011 El Dorado County Gamay Noir Bone-Jolly
Berkeley winemaker Steve Edmunds long ago became smitten with the vivid and buoyant wines of Beaujolais. Unable to find a California source of gamay noir à jus blanc, he prevailed upon progressive El Dorado County fruit farmer and vineyard developer Ron Mansfield to lobby fellow grape growers to start cultivating experimental plots of the variety.
At the start of the century, Bob Witters agreed to put some gamay noir in his vineyard more than 3,000 feet up the Sierra foothills, and within three years Edmunds began to squeeze the grapes into a wine he calls "Bone-Jolly," a name that evokes both Beaujolais (just say Bone-Jolly fast and repeatedly) and the sort of fun and frisky wine most closely identified with the region.
For his newest version of the wine, the Edmunds St. John 2011 El Dorado County Gamay Noir Bone-Jolly, Edmunds chose fruit from another El Dorado County stand of the variety, the Barsotti Ranch on Apple Hill. It is a few hundred feet lower than the Witters vineyard and has soils with more weathered and decomposed granite, thereby being closer to the profile of places in France where the more impressive interpretations of Beaujolais tend to be grown.
This is the fifth vintage of Bone-Jolly to come from Barsotti Ranch, and Edmunds feels it is his best interpretation yet. He credits the elevation of the vineyard for the wine's fresh-fruit flavor and the granite soils for its "backbone, nerve and perfume."
"We liked the wine we'd made from Witters, but ...