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
With its maritime influence, California's Monterey region has an extended growing season that yields wines with full flavor development and great acid balance. Mandolin Pinot Noir is a rich wine that features bright cherry and raspberry fruit with hints of spice, leather and cedar.
The grapes for this Pinot Noir were sourced from vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey County, where high winds, dry days, and bay fogs create a cool, but very long, growing season. These growing conditions are ideal for cool-climate grapes such as Pinot Noir, and lead to full, forward fruit flavors and ideal acidity. Grapes were harvested at an ideal balance of sugar and acid, and the wine was fermented in small open-top tanks. The wine completed malo-lactic fermentation in French oak barrels, where it aged for 8 months prior to bottling. TA .67 pH 3.50 Residual Sugar 0.052g/100ml
Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc is made from 54% Grenache Blanc, 46% Vermentino.
Le Cigare Blanc is the white analog of Le Cigare Volant, Bonny Doon's flagship wine, named in honor of the cigarshaped alien craft banned by decree of the village council of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A blend of 54% Grenache Blanc and 46% Vermentino, this wine is a study in pome fruit and citrus —Asian pear, green apple, with more than mere suggestions of lime blossom and citrus rind.
They 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 solar-powered light-sail, sent on a reconnaissance mission to, well, check us out. But, withal, 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.
Pale, slightly lime-green color with great freshness and a rather bracing acidity and a strong element of “minerality.” Despite its Central Coastal California provenance, the wine really does strongly signify some Mediterranean antecedents - a suggestion of herbal underbrush, sunny, coastal, salt-kissed citrus. The crisp acidity of the wine along with the lemon/lime element, makes it the perfect refreshing accompaniment to any dish that itself would benefit from a slight spritz of citrus. Le Cigare Blanc remains a great vin de gastronomie, pairing well with lighter seafood, as well as serving as an exemplary apéritif.
The perfect refreshing accompaniment to any dish that itself would benefit from a slight spritz of citrus. Le Cigare Blanc remains a great vin de gastronomie, pairing well with lighter seafood, as well as serving as an exemplary apéritif.
Prawns à la plancha, oysters, crab cakes, stuffed piquillo peppers, day boat scallops persillade, brandade de morue, sole meunière.
"Very light in the glass, this blend of 46% Grenache Blanc, 34% Vermentino and 20% Clairette Blanche offers honeydew, lime pith, wet gravel and a hint of lanolin on the nose. The palate is full of flavors, offering sliced pear and lime peel set upon a delicate texture. - MATT KETTMANN"
- Wine Enthusiast (October 2020), 90 pts
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 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.
Bonny Doon Picpoul is made from 100% Picpoul Blanc.
This Picpoul is from the Beeswax vineyard. Picpoul or "lip-stinger" is known, of course for its tingling acidity, but coupled with its singular savoriness, it creates a dramatic sensation on the palate.
The nose of this Picpoul is maritime, coupled with a discreet suggestion of peaches, wildflowers and the ubiquitous fragrance of beeswax.
This wine is utterly brilliant with the briniest oysters or Dungeness crab. Other ideas include grilled octopus with lemon, Moussaka, sardines a la plancha, grilled sardines with friseÌe & whole-grain mustard dressing.
Seña is an authentic Chilean blend made from the finest Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot varieties. The Carmenere variety adds an evident Chilean personality to the wine.
COMPOSITION: 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Malbec 15% Carmenere, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot WINEMAKER’S NOTES “Of a deep violet red colour, the complexity on the nose conceals its many subtleties, unfolding ﬂoral notes alongside red and black fruits, denoting its distinctive freshness. Several layers are unveiled delivering notes of cedar, tobacco, bitter chocolate and truﬄes. An elegant, tense and yet very attractive wine, it generously oﬀers fresh and juicy fruit that reminds of blueberries, raspberries, some spices and Cuban cigar box notes. Above all, Seña 2018 is a truly captivating wine that accomplishes a unique balance between power and elegance. I believe we are beholding one of the greatest vintages ever crafted in the 25 years of Seña’s history.”
An iconic decision is made from the heart. Following the sign of his intuition, in 1995 Eduardo Chadwick pioneered a joint venture with Robert Mondavi to handcraft a world-class Chilean wine. Chadwick searched alongside Mondavi for four long years before finding the ideal terroir in Chile’s Valle de Aconcagua that spoke to their instincts. Seña is the culmination of their vision – an expression of consummate quality and character.
This is a very thoughtful Seña that shows unique aromas of warm earth, mushrooms and conifer, turning to dark berries and black olives. The palate is more glamorous with ultra-fine tannins that envelop your palate. Shows power and vibrancy at the end. Toned muscles. It’s a very intellectual wine that harkens back to the 2015. Blend of 55% cabernet sauvignon, 18% malbec, 15% carmenere, 7% cabernet franc and 5% merlot. - James Suckling 100 Points
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
Philippe Milan Pommard AOC is 100% Pinot Noir
This wine has been aged in Oak (25% new Oak)
This is a little more structured and the style goes more toward the "vin de garde", or wines meant to age. This wine needs some food, or sometime in the decanter right now. It is well structured and reminds me of a Volnay. As a matter of fact, the parcel is located right next to Volnay. The finish is long and still quite juicy with chewy tannins lingering.
Amaren Rioja Barrel Fermented Blanco is made from 85% Viura and 15% Malvasia
The demanding level that is set in Amaren requires that all the wines are produced in limited quantities. Vine plants are composed of small clusters which make perfect ripening possible with a high concentration of nuances. A wine with great aromatic intensity and elegance.
Color: Straw-yellow in color.
Nose: High aromatic intensity, blended nuances of syrup fruit and cake.
Palate: In the mouth it is smooth and round, with a high complexity of citric flavors (lemon peel), hints of pineapple, pipe tobacco and aromatic plants with a mineral and extremely elegant finish.