Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant 2013
The 30th Anniversary release of this, their flagship wine. A beautiful wine—dark and mulberry in color as in nose. One scents cool loamy earth with suggestions of raspberries and Damson plums. This largely Grenache vintage of Cigare has an unmistakable spiciness to it—orange peel, cinnamon and black pepper. Grenache is not just about fragrance however; any synesthete worth his/her Maldon salt will know that the scent of Grenache is in part highly textural—soft and velveteen. And sure enough, on the palate the wine is also an essence of velours.
Grenache adds rich black fruit flavors and a discreet spiciness. Syrah is principally sourced from Bien Nacido vineyard in Santa Maria Valley, which produces the closest analogue we have found to a Northern Rhône Syrah—tannic and meaty in the lower registers; peppery, fruitful and delicately floral in the top, all the while showing great balance and harmony. A select group of non-irrigated, centenarian Contra Costa vineyards continues to provide Mourvèdre for Cigare. A touch of Cinsaut provides a very particular fragrance of flowers and aromatic herbs.
Blend: 55% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 16% Mourvedre, and 4% Cinsaut.
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The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces a good majority of the state's wine. This vast district stretches from San Francisco all the way to Santa Barbara along the coast, and reaches inland nearly all the way to the Central Valley.
Encompassing an extremely diverse array of climates, soil types and wine styles, it contains many smaller sub-AVAs, including San Francisco Bay, Monterey, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley.
While the region could probably support almost any major grape varietiy, it is famous for a few. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are among the major ones. The Central Coast is home to many of the state's small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as larger producers also making exceptional wines.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.