Tag Archives: red Rhone blend

Expensive wine 118: Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 2013

Le Cigare VolantThe Le Cigare Volant shows screwcap wines can age with style and grace

Randall Grahm, the Boony Doon impresario who only uses screwcaps, has insisted for years that wine ages under screwcap. This remains heresy in the wine business, which has grudgingly allowed that screwcaps are OK for cheap wine, but not for fine wine that can cellar for years. Which means not enough of the wine business has tasted this vintage of the Le Cigare Volant.

The Le Cigare Volant ($45, sample, 14.5%) is the Bonny Doon flagship, a fine red wine made in Grahm’s trademark Rhone style. Hence, Old World style and attention to terroir, but New World sensibility and technique. That means subtle tannins and a clean finish, but earthiness and spice (cinnamon, in the way it can be almost chili hot) on the front. There is also a mix of red and fruit black fruit (raspberries and plums), plus an almost gaminess that you don’t expect from California wine. Despite the high alcohol (and very high for Grahm, who prides himself on restraint), the wine is neither hot nor overwhelming.

Grahm says screwcap wines age differently than cork wines, which is not bad – just different. That this wine is still so young but intriguing speaks to this; as it continues to age over the next 8 to 10 years, the Le Cigare Volant will become richer and more complex, and it’s complex already.

Highly recommended. Serve this with lamb or duck, and enjoy not just the wine, but how easy it is to open the bottle.

Wine of the week: Domaine d’Aupilhac Lou Maset 2013

Domaine d'Aupilhac Lou MasetA Kermit Lynch red wine for $15? Do I even need to write a review for the Domaine d’Aupilhac Lou Maset?

Kermit Lynch, for those who aren’t familiar with him, is the legendary importer whose name on a label means quality wine at a more than fair price. One can buy Kermit Lynch wines without a second thought, and the Domaine d’Aupilhac Lou Maset ($15, purchased, 13%) is no exception. That it is less than $20 is a double bonus.

This is a red Rhone blend (mostly grenache and cinsault) from the Languedoc in southern France, and combines a modern, fruity style with solid, traditional French winemaking. That means it has the earthiness I love, but more red fruit from the grenache than I expected. The cinsualt, meanwhile, adds spiciness, and the whole combines for a surprisingly sophisticated wine with a longish finish and soft tannins that puts most $15 California grocery store plonk to shame.

It’s heavy enough to need food (roast chicken, roast lamb, or even hamburgers), but not in an old-fashioned, unpleasant way. Highly recommended; I bought the Lou Maset to see if it was worth reviewing and enjoyed it so much I bought another bottle a couple of days later. That I buy a second bottle of a $15 wine that quickly happens about as often as I find $15 California grocery store plonk to write about.