Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volante ‘Cuvee Oumuamua’
Made From: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah
Tastes Like: Dark Berries, Red Flowers, Earthy Spices
Planting Rhone varieties in the Central Coast was a big risk: there was a very good chance that people wouldn’t be willing to pay premium prices for ‘experimental’ wines. But Randall Grahm, an eccentric nonconformist by nature, was convinced that the quality of these Rhone-style bottlings would speak for itself. So in 1986 he released his first vintage of ‘Le Cigare Volant’, his take on a classic Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
And people started talking.
Just three years later, Wine Spectator magazine featured him on their cover dressed like the Lone Ranger, with a caption dubbing him ‘Rhone Ranger’. From that time forward his experiment became a movement, with Qupe, Tablas Creek, Miner, and dozens more wineries committing to Rhone wine production.
Grahm’s risky move catapulted him to wild success, but he never lost his innate impulse to push the boundaries. He became one of the first California winemakers to adopt screwtop closures – even for his premium bottlings – and he transitioned to biodynamic philosophies long before the trend gained mainstream popularity. But perhaps his biggest coup d’état: cutting the price of his flagship wine in half.
Over the years Grahm had founded several different wine brands, and although they were commercially successful, he began to feel like his focus was too divided. He began selling them off so that he could redouble his efforts on Le Cigare Volant, returning to his roots of making terroir-driven wine. By changing the blend to be lighter, more elegant, and drinkable at a younger age, Grahm was able to cut the price of this legendary red from $45 to just $20 a bottle.
The 2018 vintage – his first in this new style – earned a whopping 93 Point score from Wine Enthusiast, as well as the #19 spot on their Top 100 Wines of 2019. It offers classic Cigare flavors of black raspberry, blueberry, and dusty earth, complemented by notes of vibrant purple flowers and exotic spices on the long, thought-provoking finish.
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