Showing posts with label Le Cigare Volant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Le Cigare Volant. Show all posts

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare 2013

Spring is official now, although it may not feel like it yet where you are.  In Southern California, the shading between seasons is not so dramatic as it is elsewhere, but we still know when it feels like a rosé.  Yes, it feels like a rosé pretty much all the time.  Look for some great rosé wines to be featured under the "Drink Pink" heading on Now And Zin Wine as we work our way towards summer.

A rosé wine has a tough job to do.  It needs to be serious wine, but it needs to be fun, too.  Too much serious, not enough fun.  Too much fun, that's bad, too.  Bonny Doon's Vin Gris de Cigare gets the balance right - serious fun.

The bottle's front label is adorned with the famous "flying cigar" shining its illegal light over a French vineyard.  As described on the back label, "Vin Gris de Cigare is the pink analogue of Le Vigare Volant, our flagship named in honor of the cigar-shaped alien craft banned from landing in the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape by decree of the village council in 1954."  The wine is made by using "the lightest pressings of a noir."  The label also boasts that this is a "pink wine of the earth."  If all that doesn't add up to serious fun, then the concept must be alien to you.

The rosé bears a modest alcohol content of only 13% abv - so you can have two percent more fun than with a Zinfandel - and is produced from  55% Grenache, 23.5% Mourvèdre, 10% Roussanne, 7% Cinsault, 2.5% Carignane and 2% Grenache Blanc grapes.  It's a veritable smorgasbord of serious Rhône varieties.  So that as many serious wine lovers as possible could have fun with a bottle of their own, 14,800 cases of this wine were produced.  A sample was provided to me for the purpose of this article.

Light pink in color, the nose shows slightly earthy strawberry notes - always a great start for a rosé.  It gets better, though with a hint of smoke here and a whiff of spearmint there.  Gettin' serious up in here.  The palate's fruity fun is balanced by a serious savory nature, a gentle earthiness.  The acidity is substantial, but this wine opts for a creamy presentation owing to the fact that the lees - yeast cells used up in fermentation - are stirred periodically through vinification.  

Vin Gris de Cigare is serious, without losing sight of the fun.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Le Cigare Volant T-shirt

Some wines are made to be aged. I have the feeling Le Cigare Volant is one of those wines.  Every time I have a bottle of it, I intend to leave it alone and try it a few years down the road.  "I'll set it aside," I say, "and see what some aging does to it."  I haven't found out yet.  I never make it past six months of cellaring before it starts calling out to me.

We were invited to a dinner at the home of some friends we hadn't seen in quite some time.  It sounded like a special occasion, so I dusted off a bottle of what I know to be a good "special occasion" wine.  Bonny Doon's Le Cigare Volant has been oohed and aahed at every table to which I have taken it.  This was no exception.

Natalie and Michael were both quite receptive to the wine.  They had even paid a visit to the Santa Cruz winery some years earlier.  Natalie disappeared and returned wearing her souvenir of that trip, a vintage - we won't say which vintage - T-shirt depicting the Le Cigare Volant label, flying cigar and all.

I had presented the wine to our host and hostess thinking that I would get the chance to show off and explain the "UFO in the French vineyard" story.  I was beaten to the punchline.  It was a moment to remember.

The 2005 vintage is a blend of Grenache (50%), Mourvèdre (24%), Syrah (22%), Carignane (3%), and Cinsault (1%).  The wine was provided by Bonny Doon as a sample for review.

The '05 Cigare pours deep ruby red and shows very dark and earthy charcteristics on the nose.  Black cherry and a meaty aroma also waft up from the glass.  The palate is simply delicious every time I have it.  This vintage expresses the fruit very darkly.  Black plums and a mushroom aspect flow under a layer of earth and game, with cherry cola appearing on the finish.  The fruit is what the finish wants to show, though, and it does so at a lingering pace.

Maybe my next bottle of Le Cigare Volant will be the one that stays unnoticed in the rack.  It's not likely, though.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wines For Rockers: Red Zeppelin

Red Zeppelin WineI ran across another rock'n'roll winery for your rocking and drinking pleasure. Red Zeppelin Winery is located in Cayucos, CA, just up Highway One from Morro Bay. It's an interesting part of California, and the Red Zeppelin wines are made of grapes taken from several nice areas near there. The fruit comes from Paso Robles, Monterey County and San Luis Obispo County.

Unlike other wines with rock'n'roll labels, Red Zeppelin seems to be a wine first and a marketing ploy second. I make this statement without the benefit of an actual tasting.  With what seems to be a good track record by the winemaker, a raft of awards and the fact that they've been doing it for a while now - since 1991 - I feel justified in biting on the hype.

One corner of Red Zeppelin's website describes a rather bizarre link between the dirigible on the label and Randall Grahm's Le Cigare Volant. It's worth reading. There, you'll also find that Red Zeppelin wines have won several awards and been praised by no less than the San Francisco Chronicle and Rachel Ray.

Their flagship wine is the Black Zeppelin 2005. This is a Paso Robles Syrah with a healthy dose of Alicante Bouschet and Cabernet Sauvignon blended with it. The Red Zeppelin Syrah 2005 hails from Bear Valley Vineyard in Monterey County. 99% Syrah, with 1% "white varietal." The Red Zeppelin Vinidiction is a non-vintage blend from Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties, with 55% Cab and 45% Syrah. Red Zeppelin also makes a line called White Zeppelin, featuring a Riesling, a Chardonnay and a Viognier.

These wines are a little hard to find. Other than the winery's website, only a handful of retailers carry the line. There does not appear to be a tasting room associated with the winery, and tours are not given.  On January 11th, 2009, Wine Woot was offering a three pack of reds - one of each - for just under $50.

Winemaker Stillman Brown seems to be a fun-loving winemaker, indeed. Click on Swillyidle to find out what else he's been up to.