Tasting Note: Le Cigare Volant 1997, Bonny Doon Vineyards

It is with great sadness that I share the passing of a great wine. Born in Santa Cruz, California, in 1997, Le Cigare Volant was made of grenache, syrah, cinsault and mourvèdre. Its early departure was due to premature oxydation, caused by the use of an improper synthetic cork. Commemorative donations can be made to the International Foundation for Improved Closures.

Le Cigare Volant’s premature end was foretold by Randall Grahm, the wine’s grieving father, in a recent tweet. A wake was held with large Schott Zwiesel glasses, yesterday night, with a meal of braised leg of lamb served over spätle.

In its passing, Cigare still showed a sort of faded beauty that was not altogether unpleasant, although dampened by a set of stewed, dried flavors. Bovril up front, with a smattering of cedar, and dried prunes and raisins, showed up with an intensity that betrayed the quickness of the oxydation. Behind those, a careful examination showed dried cherries and spices testifying to the wine’s Rhodanian origins and the nature of its varietal components. There was also a touch of the red licorice recounted by fellow blogger Alder Yarrow, a few years ago.

The lamb, slowly braised in another rodanian wine (of carignan and grenache) with a fair dose of sliced onions,  contributed in bringing these fruity, more typical characteristics to the fore, and heightened the drinkers’ regret as to what might have been. Even in its passing, it provided pleasure that many a fruit-forward, broad shouldered, technically perfect wine wouldn’t have offered.

We salute its sacrifice in the name of closure, and hope that its younger siblings’ relationship with stelvin screwcap will be more fruitful and durable. It will be missed.

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