Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant Cuvee Oumuamua is made from 52% Grenache, 35% Cinsault, 13% Syrah.
As our story unfolds, we learn that with the 2018 vintage, there has been a fundamental change in the style of Le Cigare Volant. Not that there was anything at all “wrong” with the thirty-four vintages preceding the current one, mind you. For a number of reasons, mostly, alas, drearily fiscal/economical, the older style of Cigare has unfortunately proven to be a not particularly sustainable proposition at least from a financial perspective. The “new” Cigare, with a re-adjustment of the encépagement, by which we have dropped Mourvèdre from the mix and elevated the percentage of the (greatly underappreciated) and quite brilliant variety, Cinsault, creates a style of wine far more approachable and seductive in its youth.
We call this cuvée, “Oumuamua,” (or “scout” in Hawaiian), so named in light of the recent mysterious cigar-shaped object/visitor to our solar system, initially imagined to be some sort of asteroid, but believed by none other than the chairman of the Astronomy Dept. at Harvard University to possibly be a sort of probe, perhaps a solar-powered light-sail, sent on a kind of reconnaissance mission to check us out. (Ok, this last part is a bit of interpolation.) Anyhoo, it has been agreed that this was a very, very strange object that recently came to visit. And it appears that it may have arrived in the very nick of time, to bring a sort of much-needed revitalization to our planet, and by metaphoric extension, to the Cigare brand itself.
The color is a deep, vivid violet-red, owing in part to the lower pH of the wine. On the nose, the wine has a haunting kirsch nose (I suspect that’s the Cinsault), along with associated small red fruit (red and black currant) and perhaps a suggestion of blackberry. My colleague, Nicole Walsh and I toil away at the Cigare blend every year, and while the blend will change (sometimes radically, as it has this year), we share an idea of the Platonic form of Cigare, and the ‘17 certainly embodies that form. It goes something like this: Juiciness, fruit (but not confected or overripe), brightness, exuberance, joy, and not least, a sense of savoriness. I realize I’m not speaking orthodox wine parlance. We look above all for balance and for liveliness, for vinous qi. This wine is still incredibly young and just wants to jump out of its shoes.
INEYARD | PRODUCTION NOTES
The Alta Loma Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco area of Monterey County, was planted years back to one of the earlier selections of Tablas Creek Grenache clones, typically not a great selection for imparting real backbone or structure to the wine, but capable of making a wine that is enormously pretty and fragrant; in cool years, the fragrance of cassis or black currant is almost overpowering; most surprisingly, the Grenache in cool years from this vineyard is profoundly black in color. The Cinsault was sourced from the Loma del Rio Vineyard, a vineyard, under a previous nom de guerre (San Bernabe), we know quite well. This was the first year of production for the Cinsault and it was thinned multiple times both for enhanced concentration and evenness of ripening. The cooler climate gives the Cinsault a wonderful articulation of flavor, but what is most noteworthy is the fact that we were able to coferment the Cinsault with Syrah from the equally cool Mesa Verde Vyd. in the Santa Ynez Valley. Something magical happens when Syrah and Cinsault marry; the healthy tannin titer from the Syrah seems to give more structure to the Cinsault, helps to stabilize the color, and in general, insures that the blend will not evanesce tout de suite into the aetherial plane. The spicy, licorice component from the Syrah is a perfect foil to the Griotte cherry derived from the Cinsault.
Appellation: Monterey County
Vineyards: 48% Alta Loma, 35% Loma Del Rio, 6% Mesa Verde, 6% Zayante, 4% Rancho Solo 1% Lieff
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
TA: 6.1 g/L
Production: 11,500 cases
Cellaring: Drinkable upon release (6/19) with ageability of 7-10 years
Bonny Doon Old Telegram Mourvedre is made from 100 percent 100% Mourvedre.
Like the Rhone classic, it is produced from grapes which the label identifies as Mataro, an alias under which thick-skinned, late-ripening Mourvedre sometimes goes. From the nose, one scents licorice, blood(!) (make that very rare meat), blackberries (both berry and leaf), wet earth. There is a definite scent of beef bouillon, one of the absolute true signifiers of (proper) Mourvèdre. On the palate, the tannins are very plush and soft, almost a sense of sweetness (emphatically no R.S. in this), but with a really vibrant acidity and very great length. We somehow skirted the peril of over- ripeness and raisination, which is always a bit of a peril in the sunny climes of Antioch, CA. The wine is rich but also quite elegant at the same time.
Pairs with Wine-braised lamb shanks with herbes de Provence. Enoki mushroom tempura with soy-based dipping sauce. Hoisin-marinated chicken breasts served with wild & brown rice medley. Wild mushroom & thyme pizza. Pork shoulder. Beef short ribs.
Bonny Doon Clos de Gilroy is made from 88% Grenache and 12% Mourvedre.
For a long time Randall Grahm went to bed aïoli, clovèd in nothing but the barest essential oils. The Wine Formerly Known as Clos de Gilroy (TWFKaCdG) pays homage to the quaint, rustic town of Gilroy, the spiritual locus of all matters alliaceous. However, note well, the fruit for this wine does not, despite its name, derive from Gilroy, but instead primarily from the vivaciously scented Alta Loma vineyard in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County, accompanied by equally expressive Grenache from Rancho Solo, located just outside the wind-swept, tumble-weeded town of Soledad. (Il faut souffrir.) Grenache is really the star of the show, and it exhibits all the hallmarks of exceptional coolth—bright raspberries, red fruit, esp. black currant, with a strong suggestion of black pepper and mint, a whiff of dark earth, and a supple, lingering finish.
Bonny Doon Vineyard aims for weapons-grade fruit from their sundry Grenache vineyards, with the intent of producing killer Cigare, but sometimes they end up Clos (but no Cigare). A somewhat more elegant Clos de Gilroy than one has typically seen in years past, this wine has the elegance of a Proustian madeleine, and supports the notion that Grenache is the stylistic analogue (writ South) of Burgundian Pinot noir. This wine is exceptionally spicy, peppery and perfumed, and pairs exceptionally well with a range of dishes, not the least being peppered ahi tuna steak. Best served with a slight chill, especially as the weather warms up.
Bonny Doon Vineyard’s winemaking practice is exceptionally light-handed, with minimal intervention and manipulation. The 2017 Clos de Gilroy was created from grapes deriving from three cool climate Monterey County vineyards as well as one warmer (but older and wiser) side in Contra Costa. The fruit was hand-sorted, gently destemmed, and cold soaked to enhance flavor and persistence.
Varietal Blend: 88% Grenache, 12% Mourvedre.
Vineyards: 34% Alta Loma, 39% Rancho Solo, 15% Ventana, 12% Del Barba
Appellation: Monterey County
Alcohol by Volume: 13.6%
TA: 5.5 g/L
Production: 2,425 cases
Serving Temperature: 53-55º F
Optimal Drinkability: Drinkable upon release, 5+ years ageability
Pairs exceptionally well with a range of dishes, not the least being peppered ahi tuna steak. Best served with a slight chill, especially as the weather warms up.
Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare is made from 57% Grenache, 18% Grenache Blanc, 9% Mourvèdre, 6% Roussanne, 5% Carignane, 5% Cinsaut
This wine is quite emblematic of the great sea change that has occurred at Bonny Doon Vineyard since the sell-off/ draw-down of the Ginormous Doonamath, whereby we have essayed a most sincere effort to make “quieter” wines in a more natural, less manipulated fashion. As such, this Vin Gris is made from bespoke grapes and is not a byproduct of red wine production, per se. We harvested at the appropriate ripeness level for its style. The essential principle here is that less is truly more. The wine does not overwhelm one with fruitybombasticity; it’s charms are seductively subtle. An extremely elegant and complex Vin Gris de Cigare.
The Vin Gris is a return to form from recent vintages, and a true expression of a proper Vin Gris, which is to say a pale pink wine made with the scantest skin contact. As a result, the wine is somewhat lighter and more delicate on the palate with minimal astringency and perhaps more of a floral aspect than doonright fruitiness. The perfume of this wine is subtle, haunting, not vulgar or tawdry, like some of the louche rosés de la nuit. Enfin, this wine is all about elegance and restraint. Rosehips, cassis, fraises de bois, citrus rind, with a wonderfully austere stony finish.
The wine does not overwhelm one with fruity-bombasticity; it’s charms are seductively subtle. An extremely elegant and complex Vin Gris de Cigare.
The Grenache for our Vin Gris came from bespoke sections of the Alta Loma Vineyard, harvested at the appropriate maturity level for this elegant style of wine. About 24% of the wine is composed of traditional white Rhône varieties in substantial part from the Beeswax Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco district of Monterey, adding a surprising richness and foundation. We also employed the practice of postfermentation bâtonnage—the stirring or re-suspension of yeast lees—to give the wine a certain creaminess of texture.
Varietal Blend: 57% Grenache, 18% Grenache Blanc, 9% Mourvèdre, 6% Roussanne, 5% Carignane, 5% Cinsaut.
Appellation: Central Coast
Vineyards: 41% Alta Loma, 13% Beeswax, 11% Bokisch Ranch, 8% JD Farming, 6% San Miguel, 7% Cass, 5% Gonsalves, 4% Scheid, 3% Wente, 1% Rancho Solo, 1% Ventan
Alcohol by Volume: 13.2%
TA: 4.5 g/L
This wine just begs for oysters or stone crab.
Grand Veneur Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc Le Miocene is made from 60% Clairette, 40% Roussanne
Pale yellow colour with hints of green, aromas of white flowers (may blossom, honeysuckle).
The palate is pleasantly balanced between liveliness and roundness, which brings out characteristics of dried apricot, honey and elderberry. A Châteauneuf du Pape white displaying a great finesse.
Best between 1 and 8 years.
Soil type Coming from the single vineyard named “La Fontaine”, the plot is facing north.It is made of clay-sand and limestone. Thanks to the northern orientation, it is always very well aired. This sector allow the Roussane and Clairette to mature in great conditions without losing freshness, which we believe is key point. Winemaking & ageing Whole-bunch pressing. Vinification in stainless-steel tanks. Fermentation temperature controlled at 15°C.
"The base cuvée, the 2018 Châteauneuf Du Pape Le Miocene Blanc has incredibly classic notes of pear, pineapple, and white flowers, with just a hint of salty minerality. It's beautifully textured, medium-bodied, and refreshing on the palate. It's about a classic as they come and readers looking for an introduction into the whites of the region should grab a few bottles. It will keep for 2-3 years.."
- Jeb Dunnuck (August 16th 2019), 91 pts
Grand Veneur Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge Le Miocene is made from 65% Grenache noir, 25% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre.
An intense dark-ruby color. The nose develop aromas of ripe black fruit (such as blackberry), cherry and spice box. The palate reveals the presence of tannins, in high quantity and elegant. The finish is long and luxurious. This is the Châteauneuf du Pape expression, displaying all the characteristics of the terroir.
Soil type: Plots are located northern part of Châteauneuf du Pape and the vines are grown under organic process.The soil is marked by the violence wrought by the Rhone river. It consists of a layer of marine molasses of the Miocene period covered by alpine alluvium. The presence of a great number of rounded stones known as "galets" in the earth is evidence of the time when the Rhone, then a torrent, tore fragments of rock from the Alps and deposited them on the plain. The GRAND VENEUR cuvee will express year after year a great power and aromatic complexity.
Winemaking & ageing: Harvest is sorted by hand, destemmed and crushed. Fermentation temperature is controlled at 30°C. Vatting period of 18 to 20 days. Matured in vats and oak casks.
The medium to full-bodied 2018 Chateauneuf du Pape Le Miocene is supple and silky, with fruit-forward notes of raspberries and apricot. It should drink well young. - Joe Czerwinski"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue 244, August 2019), 91-93 pts
Le Blanc du Chateau des Landes Bordeaux Blanc is made from 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillion.
Le Blanc du Chateau des Landes Bordeaux Blanc is a very fruity style of Bordeaux Blanc AOC. It has great aromatic intensity with white peach and citrus aromas.
No oak for this wine. The wine was aged on the lees for a few month in stainless steel tank.
Malolactic fermentation was completed as well in the process .
Excellent as an aperitif, it also goes very well with poultry and salads. If you have a chance to have access to fresh oyters, it is a great match as well.
The first vintage of this wine was made in 2018 as Nicolas Lassagne wanted to create an easy drinking wine that will be perfect as an aperitif in the summer time or to compliment salads and seafood in the winter time.
Betz Family La Serenne Syrah is 100% Syrah
La Serenne is the most reflective of the site/vintage dynamic of our three single-site 2012 Syrahs. Lovers of this wine know that its source, the Boushey Vineyard, is the highest altitude of the three vineyards and is typically the latest harvested. This cool site was accentuated by the cooler season and the results reflect the seriousness of this vineyard and its care.
An extraordinary, nearly impenetrable black purple color leads to a concentrated, inky aromatic impression: smoky black cherry and wild blackberry dominate, but a litany of supporting aromas is already emerging: smoke, violet, mushroom, roasted meat, Chinese 5 spice and minerals. It has a full attack on entry and a big, rich mouthfeel that goes on and on.
2012 is our 13th harvest from this site and these rows. We continue to be impressed with the chameleon nature of this vineyard, in cool years and hot, in heat spikes and cool springs: it provides us with surprises and opportunities at every harvest. While the themes of deep black fruits and pliant structure always surface, the nuance of this vineyard and its care (thank you, Dick Boushey) make it some of the most satisfying fruit we work with every harvest.
"The pure, elegant and textured 2014 Syrah la Serenne offers that classic violet and floral characteristics of the cuvee, as well as medium to full-bodied richness, lots of black raspberry fruit, fine, sweet tannin and a great finish. It’s not as powerful or concentrated as the La Cote Rousse, yet it’s a joy to drink and will cruise for a decade or more on its balance and purity. - Jeb Dunnuck"
- Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (Issue #225, June 2016), 93 pts
Manoir du Carra Bistrot Beaujolais-Villages is made from 100 percent Gamay.
From Granitic and sandy soils, the Beaujolais-Villages carra Bistrot exhibits intense color, with hints of cherry and garnet, and to reveal aromas of red fruit dominated by cassis and strawberry. This Cuvée was specially made for the Parisian Bistrots willing to offer easy drinking wines, with enough body to withstand local Cuisine from the Beaujolais region.
Produced from a selection of old vines (50-70 years old). Manual harvest; selection of the best grapes using a sorting table; semi-carbonic maceration for 10-12 days. No filtration. Egg white fining.
Great with coq au vin (Chicken cooked in a red wine sauce) or charcuterie (garlic sausage, dry sausage).