Many folks have a quizzical look upon their face when I talk about the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, first they are thinking where the bleep is that and second what is a AVA? Now no one has ever had the courage to ask me, "what are you, some kind of cork-dork" ? I would answer with an enthusiastic nod of agreement and say, "well you could go even further and characterize me as a wine geek, guilty as charged." Purple teeth and purple fingers at times depending on the situation, but I'll save that conversation for another time. It was funny when I mentioned Bonny Doon to someone once, they thought I was speaking of a movie, entitled "Dune".
Ah yes the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is located just south of San Jose, California. This huge appellation holds over 350000 acres. According to "Vinogusto" it is astonishing, given the hardships (in particular the onset huge fires in 2009) of viticulture in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this appellation hosts some of North America's elite wineries with the likes of Ridge, David Bruce and Bonny Doon and I am a big fan of Byington and Testarossa as well.
So now that you have an idea of where I am talking about in regards to where this wine is from, now it's is time to bring into to focus the subject of this review the Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 2005. Literally translated, "Le Cigare Volant" which is French for "The Flying Cigar" or euphemistically speaking, the flying saucer! Sci-Fi fans take note, this is a first-contact wine.
Swirl: After letting this bottle settle into to its new surroundings (Chez Eyer Wine Vault) for a month or two, I finally cracked open the stelvin closure and poured myself a glass just hour before dinner for its first evaluation. In the glass a near opaque garnet colored core, giving way to cerise colored rim. Like ZZ Top has sung, she's got legs and she know how to use them, get the picture?
SniffY-Sniff: Into the glass goes my huge half Irish nose and exploding on my god-given sensory apparatus aromas of tasty brier, black cherry and undefinable gamy note.
Slurp: After giving the wine in my glass another good swirl, it's finally time to imbibe. On the palate, is an impressive concentration, with chewy plum, currant, nice minerality, licorice and tarry notes. Although listed as a California wine, it's is made in an terroir-driven old world style and does not require any long term cellaring, since it is drinking amazingly now. But it does have the stuffing to stand up to another five years in your own wine-vault!
Varietal Composition: The Bonny Doon Vineyard 2005 Le Cigare Volant is a blend, a Cuvée if you will, from fruit sourced at a variety of long-term growers in the Central Coast and Santa Cruz Mountains. This vintage is a blend of Grenache (50%), Mourvèdre (24%), Syrah (22%), Carignane (3%), and Cinsault (1%). This wine is bottled unfiltered and has a stelvin closure.
His Book: He also sent a copy of his "new" book,
BEEN DOON SO LONG A RANDALL GRAHM VINTHOLOGY which I am enjoying immensely and will have the review of the book separately from the wine. His style of prose is both humorous and captivating, a great read thus far, stay tuned for the book review.
Alcohol and Ageing: The wines alcohol percentage weighed in at a mere 13.5% and the different wines which make up this delightful blend were aged separately no doubt and blended together before bottling. The aging process; 18 mos, 1/2 in puncheon, 1/2 in wooden upright, significant batonage.
With/without Food: This wine was a great quaff just by itself, a sure crowd-pleaser with an appropriate amount of decanting and just a wonderful wine for pairing with many different food combinations. Keep in mind this can't be said of all wines and is a high compliment to the wine maker and the growers of these grapes, well done!
Full Disclosure: Mr. Grahm (winemaker) sent a request to have this wine reviewed by the Cuvée Corner Wine Blog and I was most flattered and delighted to have the opportunity.
Where to Purchase and Price: Wine can be purchased directly from the Bonny Doon Vineyard website. This wine can also purchased online and or in their respective brick n mortar locations Woodland Hills Wine Co., Wine.com and Wine House. The prices range from $26.99 to $29.99 depending on where you shop.
My Recommendation: Drink now and drink often, this is a great wine to stock up on, but as there was a little over 1100 cases produced it's going to go fast. So run don't walk, place your order today. The 2005 Le Cigare Volant is as smooth as Jeret "Speedy" Peterson is on his skis as he catapults himself 60 feet in the air. Oh wait you don't know who that is? Well in the coming year you're going to find out as the 2010 Winter Olympic Games are about to get started I want to wish "Speedy" and Team USA good luck! I think all of us as Americans would like to say with one voice go TEAM USA! I like this quote from Steve Fisher who Jeret Peterson quotes while he recounts his own life, "People are put on this earth to make mistakes and learn from them. Life is one big classroom." Well said, it reminds me of challenges and triumphs of Randall Grahm, but with this wine he definitely has a triumph! Until next time cheers everyone!
Other voices: "The 2005 Cigare Volant (50% Grenache and the rest Mourvedre, Syrah, Carignan, and Cinsault) exhibits peppery, earthy, black currant and black cherry fruit, and medium body. This spicy, hedonistic vin de plaisir should be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years. Purchasers should treat it like a French Cotes du Rhone."Given 89 points by the Wine Advocate
Gabe's View had this to say, "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."