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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Glorious Gun Bun: The Wines Of Gundlach Bundschu

Last week I was fortunate to have the chance to chat and taste with Bill Shenas of Sonoma winery Gundlach Bundschu (Gun Bun). If you don’t already know them, you should, and if you find the name difficult to pronounce, they provide a wonderfully illustrative guide on every cork - Gun Lock Bun Shoe (See below).  

Gun Lock Bun Shoe
Jacob Gundlach established the vineyard in 1858 and was joined by partner Charles Budschu a decade later. It has remained in near-constant operation ever since, with only brief interruptions for little things, like Prohibition. The winery farms over 175 acres distributed over 300+ acres of property to the west of Sonoma’s Arrowhead Mountain.  More importantly, Gundlach Bundschu has earned a reputation in the modern era, for providing quality wine with a thoroughly non-threatening price tag.  I took the opportunity to taste through some of their wines with Bill at Wit and Wisdom Tavern in Baltimore.  Here is my summary:

The 2012 Estate Chardonnay is a pale straw color with beautiful aromatics that resonate with zest and marmalade. The palate mirrors the nose nicely, with a soft, mouth feel and hints of honey and creamy but all the while remains clean and fresh. This is an elegantly structured lighter mid-weight Chardonnay that finishes with nice notes of baking spice. Fermentation took place in barrel (80%), of which a fifth were new French Oak cooperage, and stainless steel (20%) – no malolactic.  Given the $25 price point, I see this as a very competitive 90 points.


The 2013 Gewürztraminer, Estate Vineyard, Sonoma Coast is truly a bone-dry delight.  Nose and palate show wonderful spice and orchard fruits with lychee, white peach and apricot dominating on the palate.  It’s refreshing, spicy and lively with a persistent finish that adds a component of pith to the spice and fruit. At approximately $22 per bottle, this great little Gewurz is an easy 89 points and a "no brainer" for bulk buy.

2012 Pinot Noir, Estate Vineyard, Sonoma Coast is a delicious meld of red fruit. The nose gives a great impression of raspberry sorbet, with a little edge of cinnamon.  On the palate layers of ripe AND slightly tart red and black raspberry are layered with fresh vanilla, hints of bitter cherry giving a pleasing and cleansing slightly bitter acidity and nice clean finish. This was an early bottling and will likely add some complexity over the next nine months. At $32 per bottle, this Sonoma Pinot is a delicious 89 points.


 2011 Merlot, Estate Vineyard, Sonoma Coast (88% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 3.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.5% Petit Verdot). This is a beautiful and well-structured Merlot. It exudes classic Black Forrest gateaux; blueberries, black cherries and chocolate with an earthy tone edged by herb and cherry pith.  It’s possesses a wonderfully pliant spine with an almost chalky minerality. $30 per bottle, 89+ points.

2011 Sonoma Cabernet, Estate Vineyard, Sonoma Coast (90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec) – a lovely black/blue fruit-driven cabernet infused by herb and white pepper. The palate is mid-weight and broad. The fruit is bright and fresh, herbaceous with a chalky minerality on the finish.  It’s definitely young right now but will gain depth with some bottle age.  Drinking window 2017-2027. A highly desirable Sonoma Cabernet at $40 per bottle, 89+ points.


2010 Vintage Reserve (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec). This is outstanding! Black currant-driven with glorious texture and mouth feel. Lush pliant fruit tannin underpins an earthy, dusty minerality.  Ripe red fruit emerges with air, and gives rise to spice, and mocha. A pure stream of fruit wrapped in layers around a core of mineral complexity. $90 per bottle, 93 points.

All in all, Gun Bun wines provide a quality and elegance rarely seen at these price points. These are, without exception, delicious and food-friendly wines. Further, there is not one among them on which I would be unhappy to pull the cork and share with friends, and that's a valuable metric in a wine.  

For all of you 90 point wine-hounds out there - please note, there are many excellent and delicious wines just below the 90 point meridian. Conversely, there are many wines that score over 90 points that may be beautifully constructed but may not be considered to be delicious.  Do not sell your wine experience short by the exclusive pursuit of the 90+ point score.  

You can catch other bottle notes and pictures on my twitter account - please drop in and follow @BruisedGrape  Your comments are always appreciated!

 All original content, inc. text and photographs remain the copyright of the author (A. McCallion)

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Isaac James Baker said...

Great round-up of Gun Bun's wines. I'm a big fan. Their Gewurz is always solid, a no-brainer definitely. The vintage reserve really impressed me, although I haven't tried the 2010 yet. Cheers!

Andy McCallion said...

Thanks for the feedback and kind words. I loved the Gewurz and agree that perhaps the Rsv can appear a little ripe in prior vintages. That said, I enjoyed the bottle I tried - hence the score.

Bill Eyer said...

Hopefully no kids will take the cork to school, they could be expelled.

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