Blended wines can be particularly interesting. This is especially true in the case of a wine like Bonny Doon Vineyard’s Le Cigare Volant. This wine which was first made in 1984 is produced vintage after vintage with a concept in mind. Randall Grahm works each year for a style and uses the lots of fruit and blend that he feels best achieve his goal. Today I’ll look at the current release. The Bonny Doon Vineyard 2005 Le Cigare Volant is made from fruit sourced at a variety of long-term growers. This vintage is a blend of Grenache (50%), Mourvèdre (24%), Syrah (22%), Carignane (3%), and Cinsault (1%). This wine is bottled unfiltered and finished in screw cap. 1,615 cases of the 2005 vintage were produced and the suggested retail price is $30.
A floral component, led by violets, fills the nose of Le Cigar Volant. That’s joined by earth, hints of vanilla, jasmine and red plum as well. Blueberry, dark plum and subtle but present blackberry are at the core of the lush, full flavored palate of this wine. Spice notes are prominent throughout, with nutmeg, star anise and cardamom of particular note. Savory notes kick in and lead the finish along with increasing spice and flourishes of sour cherry, and earth. The finish is generous in length and impressively layered with subtlety. Medium tannins and excellent acidity balance things out nicely. This wine will pair well with something as casual as a gyro or more complex as Coq au Vin.
Le Cigare Volant is the signature wine of Bonny Doon Vineyards. The label says California, but the flavors are Old World indeed. From the modest 13.5% alcohol, to the impeccable balance this wine is stylistically, spiritually, and by intent a nod to classic French wines of the Southern Rhone, more than modern Southern Rhone offerings. I’ve had this wine more than any other Bonny Doon selections over the years. While it’s certainly been pretty consistent there are always variations. The 2005 is amongst the best versions. If you drink it over the next 3-5 years you’re going to want to decant it. An hour is fine, but two hours is even better. That time really allows this selection to open up and expose its charms, which are many. Sip after sip Le Cigare Volant demands you come back to the glass for more. Pretty soon the bottle is going to be gone and you’ll wish you decanted a couple. If you’re familiar with this wine, 2005 is a benchmark vintage that will age for the long haul. If somehow you’ve never had this classic California offering from Randall Grahm, this vintage is a great place to start. If I could only use one word to describe this wine, that word would be character. Le Cigare Volant 2005 is loaded with it.