This year I got the opportunity to participate in a winery employee project. Me and a few of other employees at Loxton Cellars got half a ton of Syrah grapes to make our own wine from. We’ll do all the work and we’ll make all the decisions. What does this have to do with Gundlach Bundschu? Well, it means that I am in Sonoma more often and not spending the entire time at Loxton. This gives me the opportunity visit our winery neighbours. This time I decided to visit one of the wineries that have the longest history in Sonoma, Gundlach Bundschu.
Gundlach Bundschu (GunBun) is still family owned which seems to be a rarity these days. Currently being run by Jeff Bundschu, GunBun, is on its 6th generation of ownership spanning 150 years. GunBun has been making wine in Sonoma 1858 and is second to Buena Vista in longest operating winery in Sonoma. Buena Vista is gone the way of corporate ownership which makes GunBun a true Sonoma Gem.
Another thing that makes GunBun interesting is that most of their wine is made from estate grapes. In a time where wineries buy up grapes from many regions GunBun goes the old school route of producing from what they grow. This definitely allows for a ‘place’ expression in their wines. I’d characterize it as earthy goodness with nice acidity. You’ll see this consistently in my tasting notes. This is definitely a result of the proximity of the estate vineyards to San Pablo Bay and the mountain terrain.
The tasting room at GunBun is not big but not small. It can be busy and definitely has a bustling atmosphere. There is a $5 tasting fee that allows you to taste 4 wines from the wine portfolio. The current tasting list has 15 wines. Only two of them are white. Luckily for me Carol was working the day I dropped in. Carol used to work with me at Loxton Cellars. This means I got to taste through most of the wines on the list. Don’t worry, I spit and dumped because I tasted through 12 of the 15 wines available. My tasting notes are below:
• 2007 Estate Chardonnay $25 (3/5) - Has the feel of a Carneros Chardonnay. Lots of big fruit aroma like lemon, pineapple and some citrus I couldn’t identify. Lots of citrus in the flavors with a creamy finish with some butterscotch but braced by good acidity. http://www.snooth.com/wine/gundlach...
• 2008 Estate Gewurtraminer $22.50 (3.5/5) - I’m generally not a big fan of Gewurtz. Generally I find them dull and flat. This wine proved me wrong. Aromas of leche and grapefruit and some spice. Lots of layers of fruit flavors including grapefruit, leche and apricot. Good acid, not flat! http://www.snooth.com/wine/gundlach...
• 2005 Vadasz Pinot Noir $32 (4/5) - This is one of the non-estate vineyards and I can see why GunBun got this fruit. This is a proper pinot noir. The vineyard is at the cross section of Sonoma Mountain, Sonoma Valley and Carneros. Nose has cherry, some woodiness and raspberrys. The wine is framed with good acidity, light tannins and has earthiness, spice and light red fruit. http://www.snooth.com/wine/gundlach...
• 2007 Estate Pinot Noir $34 (3/5) - More of a traditional Carneros pinot noir. Still a young wine but good. More red fruit than the Vadasz Pinot in the nose. Still has good acidity and a nice silky character and red fruit. Very light hints of earthiness. http://www.snooth.com/wine/gundlach...
• 2006 Estate Tempranillo $35 (3/5) - Unusual variety for GunBun when you look at the rest of the lineup. Still, this is a decent wine. Doesn’t have quite the intensity I was expecting. Nice aromas of plum, leather and smoke. Had some nice clove and spice taste but fruit not quite there. Good acidity. http://www.snooth.com/wine/gundlach...
• 2006 Estate Merlot $30 (3/5) - I’ve been on the hunt for a really good California Merlot and had high hopes for this GunBun wine. I wasn’t disappointed but I wasn’t blown away. Bright red fruit on the nose with some tobacco. Softer in intensity with earthy, leather and plum flavors. http://www.snooth.com/wine/gundlach...
• 2006 Vineyard 51 Merlot $30 (3.5/5) - The fruit for this wine is sourced from Alexander Valley, which is noted for Cabernets and Merlots. To me this has a Bordeaux feel to it. More earthiness than the Estate Merlot and a nice herbal character. http://www.snooth.com/wine/gundlach...
• 2006 Estate Syrah $38 (2.5/5) - Kind of a funky wine. Some funky earthy aromas but not in a bad way, just not something I associate with Syrah. Smoky, black fruit flavors with some leather hints. Surprisingly low in acid for a GunBun Estate wine. http://www.snooth.com/wine/gundlach...
• 2007 Estate Zinfandel $38 (2.5/5) - Not sure why but this wine didn’t appeal to me. It’s not bad but I guess just not my style. Plum and cherry on the nose with flavors with raspberry jam and some spice.
• 2006 Estate Cabernet $40 (4/5) - To me GunBun is about cabernet and this is definitely classic Sonoma Cabernet. It is more herbaceous than ripe fruit. Nose has some some spice (cassis) with leather and dark fruit. Good fruit flavors with spice and silky tannins and great balance. http://www.snooth.com/wine/gundlach...
• 2006 Mountain Terraces Cabernet $40 (3.5) - The vineyard for this wine, while owned by GunBun, is far from the property in the Mayacamas Mountains. This is more of a ripe style than the estate cab. Very nice wine. http://www.snooth.com/wine/gundlach...
• 2006 Vintage Reserve $80 (4.5) - This is the ‘big boy’ of the GunBun lineup. Labels feature the works of American artists. Seems to be the trend these days. Ignoring the label this wine is great. Classic Bordeaux style blend. Big aromas including leather, spice, cedar and red fruit. Layers of flavor including, coco, spice, leather and red & dark fruit. http://www.snooth.com/wine/gundlach...
Wines I didn’t taste but were available are:
• 2008 Tempranillo Rose
• 2005 Mountain Cuvee
• 2006 Estate Cabernet Franc
If you find yourself in Sonoma and you want to visit a place with a true sense of history and continues on in the family tradition you need to stop in at GunBun. I did and very happy that I did.
Gundlach Bundshcu (http://www.gunbun.com)
2000 Denmark Street
Sonoma, CA 95476
P 866.GO.SWIRL (467.9475)
Tasting Room: 707.939.3015
Hospitality, Tours & Events: 707.939.3019
Gundlach Bundschu Visit ... (Sonoma Valley)
- Reply by Lindy Hemsley, Nov 6, 2009.
Thanks for bringing back memories of outstanding tastings at GunBun. It seems a world away on this grey London morning but your notes have brought it closer.
- Reply by VegasOenophile, Nov 6, 2009.
I had a nice tasting at Gun Bun in September. Nice facility and overall, very nice wines. Thanks for the post!
- Reply by John Andrews, Nov 6, 2009.
Was impressed with GunBun ... decent wines and in the general scheme of things price point isn't bad. Definitely not supermarket prices but not super expensive.