2013 Boony Doon Vineyard, Le Cigare Volant, 30th Anniversary, Rhone Style Red Blend, California.
The 30th Anniversary edition of Randall Graham’s iconic Le Cigare Volant is a ripe and full bodied effort of sublime fruit, spice and depth, it’s a Grenache led Chateauneuf style red blend that perfectly celebrates Grahm’s milestone achievement. A regional cuvee rather than a single terroir the Le Cigare Volant marries a combination of selected sites from Santa Maria to Contra Costa County with the main Grenache component coming from Monterey County and the Rancho Solo Vineyard plus a tiny bit of Lodi’s Bechtold Vineyard, a hot spot for Cinsault, included and of which looks to be a bigger part of future Cigare Volant. The final break down was 55% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 16% Mourvèdre and 4% Cinsault which resulted in this wines opulent fruit and its lush texture with Grahm and his talented team really getting the most of the vintage’s best quality into the bottle and keeping it all balanced with subtle spice, earth and savory tones contrasting nicely with the deep black and red fruits.
Those that love modern Chateauneuf du Pape will adore this hedonistic vintage of Cigare Rouge, it’s 14.5% natural alcohol compares well with the current or more modern French versions, Randall expresses his love of Grenache dominant versions as the grape in good years provides the silken feel that is usually only reserved for Pinot Noir while also giving exotic notes, Grahm adding, he gets scents cool loamy earth with a suggestion of raspberries and Damson plums. “I do so love the largely Grenache vintages of Cigare!” such as this 2013 provides, while the Mourvedre and Syrah give a deeper mulberry color, leathery/game and a tannin structure to ensure a long life and a sense of power on the palate. Grahm also says a touch of Cinsaut provides a very particular fragrance of flowers and aromatic herbs, plus I think a bit of lift too. Grahm employs many techniques in his mad scientist style of winemaking in an every changing fashion and an exploration to produce unique and highly entertaining wines, from dried grapes to ripen stems, the addition of wood chips, which in his case is to keep the wines from being too wood driven vs. oak sweetened, along with a mix of de-stemming and whole cluster ferments and the use of alternative vessels to age his wines, somehow it all works and this wine especially shows he still has the magic after 30 vintages!
Randall tries hard to get his growers on board with organic and biodynamic farming as he is a believer in the benefits and energy that this has on his and all wines made with grapes that are grown with this holistic method, and while Cigare is not certified as such, there is a life and soul about this wine that reflects this. The 2013 is at first bright and racy with a heady mix of floral and earthy notes before a burst of dark fruits take over in the attack with layers of black cherry, boysenberry, currant and the mentioned plum and raspberry fruits with a touch of pomegranate and wild anise coming out just before you get to that meaty side of things with a hint of bacon and iron/sanguine along with a hint of smoke, camphor and vanilla. The texture is a surprise too with its satiny, almost creamy feel and the density which has a real impact, without getting flabby or fat.
This vintage of Le Cigare Volant Rouge is very sexy stuff, adding candied cherry, almost like pie filling and exotic spices with air, it thrills with Grenache charm, the Syrah, the Cinsault and the Mourvedre really act as a stage platform for the Grenache to take center stage and deliver a mind blowing performance, it reminds me of Domaine Charvin Chateauneuf du Pape 2007, and I find it crazy this wine doesn’t get more serious attention! Enjoy this is Cigare over the next 5 to 10 years, it certainly drinks gloriously now, but has the underlying stuffing to go a long time in the cellar, impressive for what some thought was a more difficult year, this is exceptional and a masterpiece of blending, get it while you can.
($45 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive