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2005 Bonny Doon Vineyard, Le Cigare Volant

Bonny Doon winemaker Randall Grahm is the kind of guy who would conspire with fellow scalawags to swipe a Christmas tree under the cloak of darkness, break into the offices of a magazine that just published an unfavorable wine review and plant the tree on the editor’s desk…decorated, of course.

Needless to say, my kind of guy—a misunderstood anti-hero in the spirit of Racer X, Robin Hood and Conan the Barbarian. So take today’s review (as one should any wine review) with a grain of salt. I love his latest wine, Le Cigare Volant.

Le Cigare Volant is Grahm’s homage to the well-regarded wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France, a hotbed for grenache, syrah, mourvedre and a host of other red (and white) grapes that are blended in an infinite number of combinations. While he makes a panoply of different wines, this is the wine he hangs his floppy hat on. It is his flagship wine, the ne plus ultra, the mack daddy.

Grahm has been making Le Cigare since 1984 and I’ve tried every version of it for the past 10 years. And I have to admit I enjoyed most of those vintages, but I wonder if my admiration of Grahm had anything to do with that. Let’s face it folks, we don’t taste wine in a vacuum. At least two times, Le Cigare was in a blind tasting of similar wines and it did not do poorly, but it did not rise to the top either.

The current vintage is a different story. It fairly crackles with a multitude of well-balanced flavors and aromas. When asked what was up in 2005, Grahm offered some pretty convincing winemaking mumbo-jumbo about lees integration, etc. I just hope our “hero” wrote down the recipe.

Gil Kulers is a certified wine educator with the Society of Wine Educators and teaches in-home wine classes. You can reach him at


Le Cigare Volant

Le Cigare Volant

2005 Bonny Doon Vineyard, Le Cigare Volant, Central Coast, Calif.



  • $32
  • Two Thumbs Way Up
  • Wonderfully perfume-like with aromas of blackberries, clove and a smoky bacon quality. It is a big wine but not over powering (13.5 percent alcohol) with flavors of tart, dark berry fruit, dark spices, black cherry and touches of leather and mint.

Note: Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from Thumbs Down, One Thumb Mostly Up, One Thumb Up, Two Thumbs Up, Two Thumbs Way Up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.

3 comments Add your comment


January 6th, 2010
9:11 pm

I have your blog in my Google feed so I was happy to see it appear today! Gotta go look for this one.

Gil Kulers

January 6th, 2010
10:08 pm

Hey, Lisa, you’re a lucky girl to have seen this THREE WEEKS BEFORE it was supposed to be posted. It’s coming down right now.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Randall Grahm, anna mae auxtero and Gil Kulers, Me Myself. Me Myself said: RT @RandallGrahm: RT @WineKulers: Le Cigare Volant from Bonny Doon. Best wine? Ever? [...]