2012 Bonny Doon Vineyard, Le Cigare Volant, Rhone Style Red Blend, California.
The gorgeous drinking 2012 Le Cigare Volant is dark Rhone style blend that leans heavily on Mourvedre , as do many of the later versions of Randal Grahm’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape inspired Cigare. This vintage, coming all from mostly central coast fruit sources ended up being 39% Mourvèdre, 33 % Grenache, 26% Syrah and 2% Cinsault, with a vast array of vineyards including 33% Del Barba, 18% Bien Nacido, 17% Alta Loma, 11% Ventana, 7% Rancho Solo, 6% Enea, 5% Alamo Creek, 2% Woock and 1% Spanish Springs. The mainly 100 year old vine sourced Mourvedre, along with the Bien Nacido Syrah really give a dark and blue fruited personality in this 2012 Le Cigare Volant, while the Grenache adds a juicy silken quality that is impossible to resist, especially here in this vintage. The winemaking, which is led by the quality of the grapes, which Randall tries to get organically, is clean, gentile and inspired with native yeasts and some whole cluster fermentation with a combination of tank and barrels used in the aging process that can include the addition of oak chips, which at first seems odd, but is more about not having too much French oak influence, rather than more.
I recently got a set, a vertical collection of the Boony Doon Le Cigare Volant and have been exploring this iconic California wine, trying without prejudice to see where it sits in the rejuvenated California Rhone sector that is busting at the seams with amazing producers and wine choices. So far I must say, Randall’s efforts have been impressive and the Cigare has more than held its own against serious competition, where it lacks is not its quality and performance, but that it is not a single terroir expression and in the market place, where it is commonly snubbed and misunderstood. That said, it drinks well and consistently out performs more expensive offerings, with this 2012 starting to reach its potential, while still youthfully fresh giving vinous mouth feel and layering.
The 2012 Le Cigare Volant red starts with a slight hint of reduction that reminds me a bit of a Burgundy, but quickly opens to a cascade of blue and black fruits, brambly spices and delivers a textural hedonism on the full bodied palate. This is a wine that has many facets, with the complex lift and spice of stems, but one that flows seamlessly and has an opulent sense without being heavy, it is a wonderfully focused and balanced wine. The details include a subtle floral note and mocha note to go along with a core of flavors, blackberry, boysenberry, creme de cassis, candied cherry, plum and pomegranate that unfold in a polished fashion along with a touch of briar, raw meat, smoke, grilled fennel, orange rind and light vanilla. This lengthy and polished wine has a charm all its own and should drink well for another 5 to 10 years, best enjoyed with more robust cuisine.
($45 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive