Mad Genius winemaker Randall Grahm has had a (sometimes literal) presence in our shop since the mid-80s. It’s hard to believe there was a time when grapes like Syrah and Grenache were not taken seriously by California winemakers, but Randall and others like him opened up possibilities for the industry that winemakers today are still reaping the benefits of. Every time we’re able to bring you an unusual grape or sell you a wine with a whimsical but informative label, you have Randall and his ilk to thank. These days, Bonny Doon Vineyards, an enterprise that has in the past made as many as 30 different wines, each one more esoteric than the other, has consolidated itself down to four wines. All are grown organically and according to biodynamic principles. The Cigare Volant Blanc has been made since 2003, primarily from Grenache Blanc and Roussane (two grapes Randall was a pioneer in promoting), but in 2018, the inconsistent Roussanne was grafted over with Vermentino, which has made the wine even more crisp and fresh. The current blend is 60% Grenache Blanc, 32% Vermentino, and 8% Clairette Blanche. The main grapes are grown in the Beeswax Vineyard in Arroyo Seco, and the Clairette is grown in Paso Robles.
For a wine that drinks as easily as the Cigare Blanc, it is surprisingly rich - it is fermented in very old 60-gallen barrels and stirred fortnightly, and undergoes full malolactic fermentation. This is a wine that will move easily from the picnic table to a formal dinner. Come and sample a wine still hand-made by a seminal figure of American winemaking who still knows how to deliver pleasure and fun.
The classic “Cigare Volant” label: Vineyard artwork from 1855 edition of “Bordeaux Chateaux,” spaceship courtesy of Jules Verne, circa 1870