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Flying Cigar Sensation

The founder of California’s Bonny Doon Winery, Randall Grahm, is an icon. Enfant terrible, whimsical, intellectual, liberal arts proponent and eternal philosopher, he made his mark as a “Rhône Ranger.” A proponent of using red and white California-grown Rhône grape varietals, the winery is based in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of Silicon Valley. Grahm also spawned the term ABC as his mantra – Anything But Chardonnay. Despite what seems like a “fun” side of the business, these wines are serious. His tribute to high quality red Rhône-style blends is comically labelled Le Cigare Volant, the French term for what English speakers call a flying saucer. It refers to an ordinance passed by the local government officials in 1954 in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France, that forbad flying cigars from landing in their vineyards. Instead, this wine has landed on the shelves of your local LCBO Vintages retail outlet instead. The key varietals of this blend are Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah with small amounts of Petite Sirah and Counoise providing a supporting role. With a nose of red fruit, on a bit of the wild side, the effects of barrel toasting come through subtly. The palate greets us with nuances of lingering dark red fruits and exotic spices wrapped up in a medium body. We would recommend enjoying the “cigar” with a charcuterie board piled high with diverse cold cuts and characterful cheeses served with artisanal breads. An olive and nut bread loaf, with its Mediterranean origins, would be the perfect carb component. Wine Enthusiast magazine rated this wine 92 points.              

2020 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant #18516, $19.95.