In 1954, amidst global flying saucer mania, the good people of Châteauneuf-du-Pape formalized a law forbidding “cigares volantes” from entering the airspace over their precious vineyards. No kidding. The law still exists.
So in 1984, California wine guru Randall Grahm paid homage to this bit of legislative madness by creating his wine Le Cigare Volante. Grahm is considered one of the original ‘Rhone Rangers’, a group of Cali winemakers who employ traditional Rhone grapes (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Carignan, Viognier, Roussanne & Marsanne) to produce their wines. Grahm also leads the industry in a multitude of other ways. With ‘truth in labeling’ and ‘natural wine making’, hotter than hot buttons, he raises the bar by including an ingredients list on his bottles. His packaging is brilliant. From the alien crested screw cap to the label depicting a grower being beamed up from his vineyard, this “Red Wine of the Earth” informs, entertains and most importantly delivers. Check out the website. It’s one of the best I’ve come across. www.bonnydoonvineyard.com
According to the radio announcer, numerologists consider today (10-10-10) the luckiest day in a hundred years. It is a powerful time when new opportunities arise and everything goes your way. Giddy-up. I purchased my half bottle of Cigare Volant (2006), specifically for my sister, Denise, who as of today, sold her General Store and is now free to board the next spaceship for new adventures.
Denise usually drinks Australian Shiraz. I think she may secretly have stock in Wyndham Bin 555. I picked the Cigare because it is based on Syrah (aka Shiraz). Grahm adds to the mix a good whack of Grenache and a sprinkle of Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Carignan. Grenache adds sweet strawberry flavours and body. Cinsault is a workhorse grape providing viticultural insurance. Carignan adds colour, tannin and acidity. Mourvèdre (aka Monastrell, aka the Dog Strangler) adds a wild, earthy, sweaty saddle note. Mourvèdre is better than it sounds. Denise loved its ‘old world’ complexity. “This is my kind of wine”. It reminded her of acquired tastes like olives and aged cheese.
Which made us crack out some cheese. Dubliner. Perfect.
Denise and I enjoyed the wine with my lovely Mum and her partner Barrie. (I’m in Calgary for Thanksgiving).
Dinner conversation included ‘wine fed beef’ and ‘tags in Wal-Mart clothing that tracked your after purchase movement’. After dinner entertainment included extra-terrestrial organ music à la Barrie and interpretive dance à la Mum and me.
No need to suggest a lower budget alternative. This wine only cost me $11.50 USD for a halfie. These blends are lovingly referred to as GSMs (after the grape blend). You can shop around for them in the American, Australian or of course French aisles of the wine shop.
The 1001 wine book recommended this wine could age up to 15 years. Actually, so did the Bonny Doon website. But in my (humble) opinion, I thought it was drinking perfectly now with a couple years of life left in it. Keep in mind smaller bottles age more quickly than bigger ones and wines under screw cap can age slower than those under cork.
So the Cigare Volante is one of my favorite wine labels. What’s yours?