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93 Points, $19.95—The Return of an Iconic Cali Red: Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant - 11/12/2019 - Syrah (domestic)

Randall Grahm’s Le Cigare Volant is a groundbreaking wine. Crafted as an homage to the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, it became in many ways the flagship expression of the Rhône Ranger movement from the 80s and 90s. But Grahm decided to stop production a few years back while looking for inspiration for the next game-changing project. The result? A new Cigare Volant, one that delivers the magic of his previously retired $40 release, and does so for half the price. Even at the new pricing, the result is still arguably one of the finest expressions of this Rhône-inspired red to date. The critics are already taking notice, doling out unanimous acclaim. It is a direction with which we are fully on board. Dazzling fruit, supple tannins, and a profile that makes it a friend of countless cuisines, it is the perfect all-purpose red—precisely what Grahm hoped to achieve. If you love Côtes du Rhônes with an added touch of panache, then you will absolutely adore this 2018. The new Cigare Volant is proof positive that Bonny Doon remains one of the most exciting and innovative wineries in California.

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2018 Bonny Doon Vineyard "Le Cigare Volant - Cuvée Oumuamua" Monterey County Rhône Blend ($19.95)

93 points Wine Enthusiast: "Randall Grahms ever-evolving ideology shifted again for the new label and blend of this bottling, which includes 52% Grenache, 35% Cinsault and 13% Syrah. Aromas of plum, cracked pepper, crumpled carnations and dried mint lead into a bright, refreshing palate of hibiscus, anise and a curry-like spice. *Top 100 Wines of 2019* (MK)" (10/2019)

91 points Vinous: "Deep, shimmering red. Displays lively red berry, cherry and floral qualities on the nose, along with building suggestions of exotic spices and succulent herbs. Juicy and precise on the palate, offering fresh raspberry, bitter cherry and spicecake flavors that slowly turn sweeter with air. Shows sharp delineation and spicy cut on the impressively long, silky finish, which emphatically repeats the red fruit and floral notes. This vintage marks a sharp and intentional change of direction and style for this iconic wine as winemaker/owner Randall Grahm wants it to exhibit more finesse than it has in the past. (JR)" (11/2019)

K&L Notes: The latest edition of Bonny Doon's "Le Cigare Volant" carries a Cuvee name: "Oumuamua" meaning "Scout" in Hawaiian. The name continues to build on Bonny Doon's long running extra-terrestrial theme. "Oumuamua" is the name that was given to a comet-like object from outside of our solar system that was first detected at a Hawaiian observatory on Maui. The wine itself whilst sharing its southern Rhône inspired cepage (Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah) is quite different to most previous releases of Cigare Volant. The wine is very bright and pliant on the palate whilst retaining its signature savory, umami aspects that I think would trick most imbibers into believing this wine was of European origin. I think an appropriate analogy would be that the new 2018 edition is a California take on Côtes du Rhône where as previous ones had been more aimed towards Châteauneuf-du-Pape with their greater extraction and structure. What really works here is the drink-ability factor. This wine is flat out delicious and one of the more food friendly and versatile Californian reds you'll find anywhere. Randall has also priced this wine very reasonably and I think its new sub-$20 price point will make this wine as accessible to the pocket book as it is on the palate. Bravo! (Ryan Woodhouse - K&L Domestic Wine Buyer)

Staff ImageSteve Bearden | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 16, 2019

The new iteration of Le Cigare Volant replaces the Mourvedre with Cinsault and five years aging with only one year. The result is a fresher, and more lively wine with brighter aromatics of potpourri and crunchier mixed berry fruit. This is delicious, refreshing and about half the price of previous offerings. BRAVO. At this price you can now buy by the case.

Staff ImageNeal Fischer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 12, 2019

Bonny Doon's Le Cigare Volant is a great, fun red Rhone-inspired blend. It's vibrant in its fruit character of mixed berries, but there are more layers going on here. I like the earthy tones that border on savoriness grooving into deeper spicy notes. I'm happy the winery brought Le Cigare Volant back into its repertoire, and at this price it's a new go-to weeknight red in my house.

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: November 04, 2019

Long before I landed at K&L, one of my first wine jobs in California was working at Bonny Doon Vineyard for the inimitable Randall Grahm. During my very eventful few years there I was lucky enough to taste every vintage ever produced of the iconic Le Cigare Volant (including the first ever bottling that happens to be my birth year). I was saddened a few years back when Randall announced he was not going to produce Cigare Volant anymore. Well surprise surprise, that didn't last long - it's back! However the real revelation here is that the new Cigare Volant bottling is significantly less expensive than prior releases but retains all of it's unique character. How often does a winery re-release an iconic wine and price it at half the price of prior vintages!? The weight and structure of the 2018 cuvee is perhaps a little more "Côtes du Rhône Village" than "Châteauneuf-du-Pape" (the historic inspiration for the wine) - but to be honest with you I love that this wine has tons of drink-ability and upfront charm. By no means is this simple, fruity wine...it still has plenty of savory, earthy, umami notes that are so important to Randall and make it a dead ringer for southern Rhone. The mid-weight palate and open knit structure is down right quaffable. Bravo to the folks Bonny Doon Vineyard for the wine in the bottle and the very fair pricing that will allow just about anyone to get their hands on this very tasty bottle.

Staff ImageLilia McIntosh | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 30, 2019

This is excellent example of classic Côtes-du-Rhône style made by one of the best wineries in California. It's a medium weight wine with a whirlwind of flavors! Bright, spicy, balanced to perfection; the fruit is vibrant and juicy but not heavy or sweet. flavor profile includes wild forest berries and muddled cherries with notes of raspberry coulis. Superb!

Staff ImageStefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 29, 2019

It's been a few years since we've seen a Rhone blend such as this from Bonny Doon, because they weren't reaching the level of quality Randall wanted. The fact that they have spent years perfecting this wine, and now it is finally for release, means it is something pretty special. Fresh and bright red fruit with medium weight body makes this a crowd-pleaser and a fantastic food pairing wine. The cooler climate sites keep this wine from becoming a fruit or alcohol bomb. I'm excited to see this style of wine back in rotation for Bonny Doon and sincerely hope they keep it up.

Tim Telli | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 29, 2019

Randall Graham, one of the original Rhone Rangers, is back with his hommage to Chateauneuf-du-Pape and alien visitors, Le Cigare Volant. The 2018 is a blend of 52% Grenache, 35% Cinsault, and 13% Syrah. The wine is lighter than previous vintages which must be due to the high proportion of Cinsault in the mix and no Mourvedre this year. The wine is bright and fresh with flavors of kirsch and berries, nice acid and is drinking really well right out of the gate. This would be great on the table with Thanksgiving fare or other holiday favorites.