Some things can only be experienced, and no matter how eloquently or accurately they are described, words really fall short. I think all great wines are like that. The best that a wine reviewer can strive for is to get just enough right so that the reader is tantalized enough to seek out the experience for themselves.
Some wine is even harder to capture in words. The 2005 Le Cigare Volant from Bonny Doon Vineyards is one such wine. I can describe the color (very intense and dark ruby), the nose (raspberry, cherry, spicy smoked meat, and funky earth), the taste (peppery red fruit, tobacco, earth, with hints of mushroom), the mouthfeel (nice acidity with deliciously soft tannins) and the finish (really long and tasty), but that just sounds like a lot of other very good wines. This is not like most other wines.
This is a Southern Rhône-style blend, and is intended as a tribute to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Bonny Doon has succeeded in paying homage to those great wines, while still producing something quite unique. The Southern Rhône is known for its terrior. The difficulty of describing this ephemeral expression of place is only exceeded by the quest by New World winemakers to attain it. Randall Graham at Bonny Doon has done so with the 2005 Le Cigare Volant. This is unquestionably an Old World-style wine, but it is also an expression of the New World-style. Confused yet? Like I said, some things can only be experienced.
Maybe some of the notes on the bottle will be helpful in understanding what makes this wine special:
In 1954 the village council of Châteauneuf-du-Pape was quite perturbed and apprehensive that flying saucers or “flying cigars” might do damage to their vineyards were they to land therein. So, right-thinking men all, they passed an ordinance prohibiting the landing of flying saucers or flying cigars in their vineyards. (This ordinance has worked very well in discouraging such landings.)
There, that should explain everything that you need to know right there. Just in case it doesn’t, here are some more facts about the 2005 Le Cigare Volant. It is a blend of 50% Grenache, 24% Mourvedre, 22% Syrah, 3% Carignane, 1% Cinsault. The alcohol is 13.5%.
Of note, while I think this definitely tastes like a Southern Rhône blend (only softer and bigger in some ways), the winemaker believes it is is more like a Burgundy, and in fact Amy said it reminds her of a good Pinot Noir. At only $30 a bottle, you’ll probably want to experience this for yourself.