2018 Le Cigare Volant
Just as Bordeaux cultivated the New World’s ideas and practices for Bordeaux-style red blends, the Rhone Valley gave us our ideas and practices for Rhone-style red blends. And the New World’s foremost producers of Rhone-style reds are the Rhone Rangers of California.
Rhone-Style red blends are red wines made from grapes traditionally planted in the Rhone Valley. Along with Bordeaux blends, these are some of the most famous blended wines in the world. As with Bordeaux, Rhone grapes don’t have to be blended, but usually are because the region offers complimentary counterparts. If one grape variety has body but lacks acidity, it can be blended with another grape variety which has the opposite properties.
There are scores of New World regions making lots of Rhone-style red blends, but foremost among them are the California winemakers known as the Rhone Rangers. The Rhone Rangers are at the heart of America’s white-hot red blend craze. Conceived in the 1980s and revived in the 1990s, the Rhone Rangers are the catalysts behind the new popularity of Grenache and Syrah red wines blends.
And the man who kickstarted that Rhone Rangers movement was Randall Graham, and he did it with this wine, now in its 36th consecutive vintage: Le Cigar Volant:
A blend of Grenache (52%) Cinsault (35%) and Syrah (13%) this boldly aromatic wine will challenge any top Chateauneuf – aromas of pronounced red berry fruit, beautiful baking spices, and a haunting kirsch note (which Graham notes comes from the Cinsault). He continues: “I toil away at the Cigare blend every year, and while the blend changes (sometimes radically, as it has this year), we share an idea of the Platonic form of Cigare, and the ‘18 still certainly embodies that form. It goes something like this: juiciness, fruit (but not confected or overripe), brightness, exuberance, joy, and not least, a sense of savoriness. I realize I’m not speaking orthodox wine parlance. We look above all for balance and liveliness, for vinous qi.” And while Randall’s wine parlance is rather florid, here it perfectly fits this gorgeous wine – bright, exuberant, joyful, and just so darn fun to drink.
Which of course, leads to the funny name. Why Cigare Volant?
In 1954 the French government in acted a law that prohibits UFOs from landing in the vineyards of Chateauneuf du Pape. French for UFO? Le Cigare Volant!
Cheers to a wonderful American success.
“#19 Wine Top 100 Wines 2019 [this vintage]
“Randall Grahm’s ever-evolving ideology shifted again for the new label and blend of this bottling, which includes 52% Grenache, 35% Cinsault and 13% Syrah. Aromas of plum, cracked pepper, crumpled carnations and dried mint lead into a bright, refreshing palate of hibiscus, anise and a curry-like spice.” – Wine Enthusiast
Available on backorder